No Fare Increases or Service Reductions Proposed
Chicago Transit Authority President Richard L. Rodriguez proposed a $1.337 billion budget for 2011
that, through cost-conscious management, maintains current fares and service levels. Rodriguez said that the CTA is working diligently to deliver on its mission while operating in a very tough economic environment. Despite limited resources, it will also continue to focus attention on areas where strategic investments will lay the foundation for future improvements and customer benefits.
“In spite of significant fixed costs and steep declines in anticipated public funding, our objective has been to meet the challenges of the struggling economy without adversely impacting the current level and quality of service provided to customers,” said Rodriguez. “Effective and disciplined management will be as essential in 2011 as it was in 2010.”
The proposed budget is $66.7 million, or 5.2 percent, more than the 2010 budget due in part to contractually required union wage increases, along with pension and healthcare obligations. These fixed increases were partially offset by management efficiencies that are expected to save nearly $54 million in 2011.
The CTA projects a balanced budget as required by law. The public funding mark set by the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) is $529.3 million. This public funding level is $92.5 million lower than in 2008 and $257.9 million lower than projected following the passage of the state’s mass transit funding and reform bill (HB 656) in 2008. To make up the difference between what it has and what it needs, the CTA proposes to transfer $113 million in eligible capital funds to the operating budget. In addition, due to a borrowing agreement between the RTA and the State, the CTA is to receive $83 million in bond proceeds in return for not raising fares. Although the State is experiencing its own financial struggles, the CTA is relying on it to meet its commitments to the CTA, both for the public funds that make up a large share of operating revenue and the promised capital program.
The Recovery Ratio, which measures the portion of operating expenses the CTA has to fund from revenues it generates, is forecast at 54.6 percent, which is higher than the required ratio set by the RTA and considerably higher than the recovery ratio required in other transit systems across the country.
“Balancing the budget was very challenging this year. Resources, which have always been limited, have become even tighter,” stated Rodriguez. “Nevertheless, the CTA expects to accomplish a great deal in 2011 and it will do so by being resourceful and innovative, while still carefully managing costs.”
In the coming year, Rodriguez said the CTA will be moving ahead with the first order of new rail cars in more than 15 years. Also underway is a new initiative that will transform the way customers pay for transit and allow the CTA to avoid an upfront capital cost to upgrade fare equipment. The CTA is implementing a biometric time and attendance system that will increase accountability and allow for better analysis due to more centralized data. It is also investing in multiple technology projects that will add value, ease customer use of the system, offer more and better information, and establish a safe environment.
The 2011 budget proposal includes a Capital Improvement Plan of $599.5 million, including $285 million in new state funding promised in the recent state capital program. Once those funds are received, the agency is ready with a list of projects that include overhauling buses; rehabilitating bus garages and rail stations; upgrading substations and replacing track to eliminate and prevent slow zones.
The CTA also continues to apply for grant opportunities. In 2010, the CTA submitted 43 applications under these programs that total approximately $836 million. While many of the applications are pending, the CTA has been awarded approximately $13.5 million for BRT and various energy efficiency and planning projects. The CTA will continue to aggressively pursue additional funding under these competitive grant programs.
CTA customers and the general public will have the opportunity to comment on the budget at a public hearing on Tuesday October 26, 2010 at 6:00 PM, at the Chicago Transit Authority, 567 W. Lake Street, second floor conference room, Chicago, Illinois, 60661. In addition, the Chicago Transit Authority will hold three community meetings:
Tuesday, October 19
Austin Town Hall
5610 W. Lake Street, Chicago
Thursday, October 21, 2010
740 W. 63rd Street, Chicago
Thursday, 28, 2010
1145 W. Wilson Avenue, Chicago
These facilities are accessible to people with disabilities.
Copies of the Budget Books, Project Descriptions, and Financial Plan are available at CTA’s main office at 567 W. Lake Street, Chicago. They are also available for review in standard size print and large print at the main office of the Regional Transportation Authority, reception desk, Suite 1550, 175 West Jackson, Chicago ; at the Harold Washington Public Library, 400 South State Street, 10th floor, Chicago; at the Sulzer Public Library, 4455 North Lincoln Avenue, Chicago; at the Woodson Public Library, 9525 South Halsted Street, Chicago; at the Evanston Public Library, 1703 Orrington Avenue, Evanston; at the Evergreen Park Public Library, 9400 South Troy, Evergreen Park; at the Oak Park Public Library, 834 Lake Street, Oak Park; at the Riverdale Public Library, 208 West 144th Street, Riverdale; and at the Skokie Public Library, 5215 West Oakton, Skokie.
Written and oral comments will be taken into consideration prior to implementation of the 2011 Budget and Program, the 2011 Capital Program of Projects, and the Financial Plan. This input will be welcomed at the hearing or by correspondence addressed to Gregory P. Longhini, Assistant Secretary of the Board, Chicago Transit Authority, P.O. Box 7567, Chicago, Illinois 60680-7567. Input can also be sent via e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline to submit written comments is Monday, November 1, 2010 by 5:00 P.M.
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2011 Budget Recommendations