With just one week to go before the elimination of 39 bus routes, as well as fare increases and layoffs of over 600 CTA employees, today CTA officials gathered at Chicago Avenue Garage to remind customers of the coming changes if a state funding package for transit is not approved. These budget-balancing actions were originally scheduled for September 16, but the State of Illinois provided an advance of CTA's 2008 reduced-fare subsidy that allowed CTA to postpone action for six weeks. As the state legislature has not approved a new funding plan for public transit, CTA must move ahead with service cuts, increases and layoffs on November 4.
?We are here as state lawmakers have failed to act on a problem that has been growing steadily worse year after year," said CTA President Ron Huberman. ?Eliminating 39 bus routes, raising fares and laying off 600 employees next Sunday will cause great hardship for our customers, motorists, businesses and CTA employees. The CTA does not want to move ahead with these cuts, but without State action we are simply out of options."
?We know crisis is a greatly overused word that may have lost its meaning?THIS IS A TRUE CRISIS. Ahead of us?for all of us, even those who drive or bike?are major shifts in how we get to the places we work, shop and play, and the times we come and go, 'said Chicago Transit Board Chairman Carole Brown. ?We remain hopeful that state lawmakers will respond to the urgency of this situation, however, we must deal with the reality of the situation as it now exists. A total of 39 routes will be eliminated and more than 63,000 riders will be looking for another way to get around each day. That is why I encourage our customers to plan alternate routes, allow extra time for travel, and to be courteous to fellow transit riders."
Despite the drastic service cuts, CTA is striving to use limited resources to maintain transit availability in all parts of their service area and maintain connections. Additional CTA staff will be out at rail stations and bus stops throughout the coming week to provide service and fare increase information to customers. In recent weeks notices to customers detailing fare changes and service eliminations have been posted system wide. CTA's web site features detailed information regarding the service cuts and fare increases, including information on eliminated routes and suggested alternate options, the modified fare structure, and ways customers can contact their state legislators. The CTA has also worked with the RTA to prepare its trip planner to be ready with post-November 4 routes, and to give notice about service and fare changes.
As things stand now, the service cuts go into effect on Sunday, November 4, however, only four out of the 39 bus routes targeted for termination currently operate on Sunday.
Customers will feel the full impact of the cuts on Monday, November 5 when all 39 bus route suspensions are in effect, resulting in 314 fewer buses in service during rush periods. CTA anticipates losing 100,000 rides a day as a result of the service suspensions combined with the fare increase.
Fare increases will go into effect across the system on November 4. Increases for individual rides range from 25 cents to $1.00, depending on the time and mode of travel.
- Bus fares will rise to $2.00 (using Chicago Card/Chicago Card Plus or Transit Card) or $2.50 (using cash).
- Rail fares will rise to $2.00 (using Chicago Card/Chicago Card Plus) or $2.50 off-peak and $3.00 peak (using Transit Cards or cash). Peak periods will be 6:30 - 9:30 a.m. and 4 -7 p.m.
- Transfers will remain the same at 25 cents. Transfers are available only to customers paying fares with Transit Cards or Chicago Card/Chicago Card Plus.
- Prices for unlimited ride passes will increase 11-20%, with the 1-Day Pass increasing from $5 to $6; the 7-Day Pass going from $20 to $23, and the 30-Day Pass increasing from $75 to $84.
- Fares for reduced fare customers, who include seniors and persons with disabilities, will not change.
- The $5 fee for Chicago Cards and Chicago Card Plus has been waived through December 31.
The CTA is recommending that its riders begin to plan now for next week and is making the following suggestions.
- Go to www.transitchicago.com and determine if your route is being eliminated. If your route is eliminated, the CTA is asking riders to use the coming week to identify an alternative route. It is also urging customers to actually begin to use alternative routes this week so they can become familiar with stops and locations. Customers without internet access should call 1-888-YOUR-CTA or 312-836-7000 for alternate route information.
- The CTA is asking all customers to leave early, or later starting Monday, November 5th, avoiding peak travel times where capacity will be limited. All customers on all routes should expect to see more crowded equipment.
All customers using the rail system should also plan on arriving early, or late. The CTA is expecting many bus customers to move to the 'L' system.
- The CTA is asking all customers to check the value on their fare cards, to ensure they have a balance that matches the new fare structure.
- While the CTA will have all available personnel on the street to assist customers, the CTA is asking for patience as everyone adjusts to the existing routes.
Due to the service reductions, the CTA will layoff a commensurate number of employees. Plans call for layoffs of nearly 600 employees, including bus operators, bus servicers, mechanics and Transportation Managers. In earlier cost cutting efforts, 75 administrative jobs were eliminated. Following layoff notification to employees, CTA's human resources department developed measures to help employees plan and prepare for layoffs. Informational workshops were held for affected employees with representatives from the
Illinois Department of Employment Security, Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Development, Mayor's Office of Workforce Development and the AFL-CIO. The workshops provided information on obtaining job interviews and training, health benefits and unemployment compensation.
Earlier this month, CTA's 2008 budget proposal was announced and ? without a funding resolution ? deeper service cuts, lay offs and fare increases will be implemented on January 6 in addition to the November 4 actions.
"I can?t stress enough that no one at the CTA wants to make these cuts. We all recognize the great burden it will place on people who depend on CTA every day. They are going to be faced with far fewer transit options which will make their lives much more difficult. Motorists will be affected because it will result in gridlock in some areas. Hundreds of CTA employees are going to be out of work? added Huberman. # # #