Today the Chicago Transit Authority began notifying employees that they may be laid off. Letters of notification were sent to 1,087 CTA employees to comply with a 60-day notification requirement. The majority of the positions are directly related to the proposed service cuts CTA will be forced to make if the General Assembly does not take action in November to provide additional funding for public transit.
The CTA has proposed eliminating 200 to 250 non-operating positions in 2005 through administrative efficiencies. These job reductions will not involve any positions directly involved in the delivery of bus or rail service. If the CTA does not receive additional funding, however, it will have to cut service, which will result in the elimination of 1,000 operating positions.
?We have to prepare our employees as well as our customers for the possibility of service cuts and the loss of positions related to those cuts if we are forced to implement the Gridlock version of the 2005 budget," said Kruesi. ?The Gridlock budget reflects the dramatic service cuts that the CTA, and its customers and employees, may be forced to live with. It is not something we want to do but it is the reality of the situation."
CTA President Frank Kruesi has proposed two starkly different budget recommendations for 2005 in keeping with a directive from the Board of the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) that all three regional transit agencies, CTA, Metra and Pace, prepare two budget proposals for 2005, one that anticipates additional funding if the General Assembly acts to modify the current funding structure and provide additional funding for public transit, and another that anticipates no new funding.
Both budgets are currently being reviewed by the Chicago Transit Board. As part of that review process the Board conducts public hearings on service cuts and the proposed budget for 2005. To date, three out of four hearings have been held in October, with the final hearing to take place October 27 at the Palmer House at 4 p.m.
?Regardless of the General Assembly's actions in November, the 2005 budget remains focused on a continual effort to streamline operations and improve productivity. The CTA will reduce its workforce by no fewer than 200 positions because of improved efficiency of our operations," added Chicago Transit Board Chairman Carole Brown. ?Although we do not want to cut service or lay off employees, we may have to do just that. Without adequate funding CTA cannot continue to operate at its current service levels."
Without additional funding, more than one-fifth of existing CTA bus and rail service has been proposed for elimination in January 2005. This represents a reduction in bus vehicle hours of 21.5 percent and a reduction in rail vehicle hours of 11 percent.
The number of peak period buses eliminated under this proposal is over 300. Of the current 152 bus routes in operation, 30 will be eliminated completely including weekdays, Saturdays and Sundays under the proposed gridlock version of the budget. An additional 21 routes will have weekend service eliminated, and nine others will have a segment of the route eliminated.
In addition to the elimination of some services, virtually all bus and rail routes will face some service reductions. Service frequency and hours of service will be decreased on many routes.
"The way in which transit is funded in this region has resulted in a 20-year erosion of CTA's purchasing power. This has contributed to difficult budget decisions year after year and each year CTA staff has worked diligently to find more ways to cut costs, operate more efficiently and increase revenues," explained Kruesi. ?But with each new budget year, it has been harder to find ways to reduce costs without impacting customers, employees and service levels. Without additional funding, the CTA will be forced to cut service and make commensurate reductions in its workforce."
CTA remains committed to carefully managing its operations and improving efficiency. Since 1997, CTA has reduced operating costs by over $760 million, including the reduction of more than 1,100 positions and increased bus and rail service. Since 1998, CTA has made service improvements on 68 percent of its bus routes (103 out of 152 routes), and on all seven of its rail routes. In 2004, the CTA cut 446 positions and raised base fares for the first time in 12 years in order to eliminate an $88 million deficit. Without these internal cost control efforts that have saved CTA $120 million each year, the deficit for 2005 would be over $195 million.
"Obviously, the issue of public transit funding is a very serious one and a lack of adequate funding will have repercussions for the entire region," said Brown. ?Along with President Kruesi, I will be appealing to the General Assembly in the upcoming veto session to take up this issue and help provide the resources and incentives necessary to meet the need for transit throughout the city and suburbs."
Further information on planned service reductions can be found on www.keepchicagolandmoving.com or at the Office of the Secretary, Chicago Transit Authority, 567 West Lake Street, Chicago, Illinois.
Written comments may be submitted through November 5, 2004, by writing to the following address: Chicago Transit Authority, P.O. Box 3555, Chicago, IL 60654, Attention: Gregory Longhini, Assistant Secretary.
E-mail comments may be submitted through November 5, 2004, by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The proposed budget is available for public review at the CTA's General Office at the 567 W. Lake Street, 2nd floor, weekdays between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Regular and large print copies are available at this location. Audio copies are also available by request.# # #