The Chicago Transit Board today approved the CTA's proposed 2000 budget, which recommended an operating budget of $841 million and $409 million in capital improvements. In a unanimous vote, the 2000 budget was approved.
"I'm very pleased to approve this budget that focuses on rebuilding our CTA system and sustains the momentum we've built up throughout the year. This budget will allow the CTA to continue to make improvements that will benefit our customers for years to come and increase their confidence in our ability to offer reliable service," said Chicago Transit Board Chairman Valerie B. Jarrett.
CTA President Frank Kruesi said, "The CTA worked hard to present a good news budget that will pour major reinvestment dollars into infrastructure improvements and bring many benefits to our customers. Over the next five years, CTA customers can expect a full fleet of air-conditioned, accessible buses; 142 new rail cars; more than 1000 new bus shelters; the elimination of most current rail slow zones; renovations at approximately 20 rail stations; security cameras on all buses; and a new, centralized paratransit reservation system."
President Kruesi added that the transit agency is nearly doubling the amount of money earmarked annually for capital improvements. Thanks to an infusion of funding from Governor Ryan's Illinois FIRST program and the federal transportation bill, the CTA expects to fund $409 million in capital improvements next year, compared to $235 million budgeted in 1999. Capital grant commitments are expected to increase over the next five years for a total investment of nearly $2.8 billion.
"We won?t lose sight of our customers," he added. "The improvements we have outlined in our capital improvement plan will significantly improve the comfort and reliability of the services we provide our customers, but they will also yield long-term operational and maintenance benefits for the CTA, which is also important, and very necessary, with a system as old as ours."
"The CTA has come a long way," said Chicago Transit Board Chairman Valerie Jarrett. "A few years ago ridership was at a low point and less than 20% of our capital needs were addressed. We've moved away from the perilous cycle of increasing fares and declining ridership. We've now seen two successive years of ridership increases and can budget nearly 70 percent of the capital improvement projects we need in order to get to a state of good repair."
The CTA estimates an operating budget of $841 million for 2000, a 5.7% increase over the 1999 budget, reflecting higher labor and health insurance costs. However, increases in CTA-generated revenues and public funding will cover the costs, so no fare increases or service cuts are necessary. Public funding is expected to total $402.1 million, up $17.3 million from last year, and system generated revenues are estimated at $439 million, $27.9 million higher than in 1999. This is partly because the CTA expects full state reimbursement for the reduced fares it offers to seniors, students and disabled passengers, a commitment made by Governor Ryan. The CTA's growing ridership has also contributed to higher anticipated revenues.
The Regional Transportation Authority set the CTA's Recovery Ratio, which measures the amount of operating funds the CTA must generate for itself, at 51.7%. However, the CTA's budget projects that it will actually recover 52.5% of its costs in 2000.
Kruesi said all initiatives in the budget were evaluated to determine how they could help further the CTA's performance objectives of being on-time, clean, safe and friendly.
The major initiatives fall into four categories. Highlights include:
1) Preventive Maintenance of Rolling Stock:
- The entire bus fleet is expected to be air conditioned by the summer of 2003. This will be achieved by a combination of new bus purchases and by retrofitting nearly 500 existing TMC buses with air conditioning.
- The 2200 series rail cars, which operate on the Blue Line and first entered service in 1969-70, will be replaced. The CTA has 142 of these cars.
- Improvements are planned to several heavily used bus turnarounds, including 95th/Dan Ryan, and more than 1000 new bus shelters are proposed.
2) Track and Structure Improvements:
- Work to be funded over the next five years will eliminate 80% of the slow zones that exist today. Presently, slow zones exist on over 20 miles of the CTA's 220 miles of track.
3) Station and Passenger Facilities:
- Repairs and major improvements are planned for more than 20 stations as well as ongoing ADA upgrades at many others.
4) New Starts:
The capital plan includes funding for continued design and engineering work for the renovation of the Cermak (Douglas) branch of the Blue Line and expansion of capacity on the Brown Line.
The CTA's approved 2000 budget will now be presented to the Regional Transportation Authority for approval by its Board.###