March 31, 2005

Elected Officials, Business, Civic, and Community Leaders Join Call for Funding Increase

The Chicago Transit Authority today unveiled five Core Principles for Regional Transit Solutions as it called for more public transit funding throughout Northeastern Illinois. Chicago Transit Board Chairman Carole Brown and CTA President Frank Kruesi presented the Core Principles along with supporters that included elected officials from both the city and suburbs, business, civic and community leaders.

?Public transportation is vital to the economic development and continued health of our region," said Brown. ?We present these principles to community members, business leaders and the Illinois General Assembly in hope of gaining widespread support for more funding throughout Northeastern Illinois for the continued health of public transit in our area."

?A reliable, affordable public transit system is also vital to the quality of life of the hundreds of thousands of people who use the CTA each day, especially those who have no alternative and depend on it every day, to get to and from work or go about their lives with family and friends," said CTA President, Frank Kruesi.

The five Core Principles are:

1. Public transit is an essential regional resource and the entire Northeastern Illinois region needs more operating and capital funding now.

2. No transit service board in the region should gain at the expense of the others.

3. A healthy transit system curbs traffic congestion and pollution while improving mobility, economic competitiveness and the quality of life for all the people in the region.

4. Funding should keep pace with steadily increasing demands on transit, including population and job growth, the end of federal operating support, unfunded federal mandates for paratransit and rising security costs.

5. Future funding solutions should reflect the spirit of bipartisanship and regional consensus.

Leaders and groups supporting the principles include:

Ralph Connor, President, Village of Maywood
Joanne Trapani, Mayor of Oak Park
Nicholas Blase, Mayor of Niles
Alderman Thomas Allen, Chairman, Chicago City Council Transportation Committee
Alderman Carrie Austin, Vice Chairman, Chicago City Council Transportation Committee
Alderman Burton Natarus
Alderman Danny Solis
Alderman Regnar ?Ray? Suarez
Alderman Ariel Reboyras
Alderman Isaac Carothers
Alderman Anthony Beale
Larry Huggins, Metra Board Director
Paula Thibeault, Executive Director, RTA
Don Storino, Executive Director, West Central Municipal Conference
John Maxson, President, Greater North Michigan Avenue Assoc.
Father Michael Pfleger, St. Sabina
Ty Tabing, Executive Director, Greater State Street Council
John Sydnor, President, Edge Systems
Gary Langston, Regional Public Affairs Manager, UPS
Karen Melchert and Charlie Boesel, CNA Insurance

In addition, these principles closely mirror a resolution set forth by the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) in November 2004, which resolved to seek support from the Illinois General Assembly for additional public subsidies for the operating and capital needs of each area transit service board.

The release of the Core Principles comes as CTA is evaluating options for alleviating operations costs in order to achieve a statutorily required balanced budget in case the Illinois General Assembly does not provide increased funds.

?Regional public transit is in a crisis. Without additional public transit funding, CTA will have to make drastic changes to services that will affect everyone in theregion," said Brown. ?This is a worst case scenario that we hope does not cometo fruition." In addition to chairing the Chicago Transit Board, Brown is a Director on the RTA Board.

"Without additional investment in a strong transit network, congestion in this region will only get worse. We would not be requesting greater funding if it was not critical and if we hadn?t already made sure that our own financial house was in order," said Kruesi. "We have long recognized that CTA has an ongoing responsibility to find ways to use its existing funding in the most efficient and effective manner. And we have a strong record of managing better, first."

CTA has presented five scenarios for achieving a balanced budget, which the Chicago Transit Board is evaluating prior to voting on a plan at its April 13 meeting. A public hearing on the planned major service reductions to bus routes and rail operations, and a fare increase, will take place at 4 p.m. on April 7, at CTA offices, 567 W. Lake Street.

"No one at the CTA wants to cut services or raise fares. We have worked hard to avoid them and they are our last resort," said Kruesi.

The Chicago Transit Authority is the nation's second largest public transit system, serving Chicago and 40 surrounding suburbs. Nearly two million customers use some combination of CTA, Pace and Metra to get to and from destinations throughout the six-county region.

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