CTA S 2003 PROPOSED BUDGET CONTINUES COMMITMENT TO CUSTOMERS

October 9, 2002
10/09/02

Chicago Transit Authority President Frank Kruesi today presented his budget proposal for 2003. The budget recommends an aggressive capital improvement program that will advance the ongoing efforts to rebuild the CTA system, continue its commitment to customer service and improve transit services for customers.

At $924.6 million, the proposed operating budget is just 1.1 percent ($9.8 million) higher than this year's budget. Ridership and revenue are forecast to grow by 1.1 percent and 1.4 percent respectively over this year's forecast, with a 2.7 percent increase in public funding over the 2002 budget.

As a result of cost-conscious management, no fare increases or service cuts are proposed. Due to the weak economy and the uncertainty of state resources, holding the line on fares will be a challenge in the future. Fares have held steady at $1.50 since December 1991. If fares were indexed to inflation they would now be nearly $2.00.

The 2003 budget proposal includes a capital improvement plan of $539 million. Projects include: the ongoing rehabilitation of the Cermak (Douglas) Branch of the Blue Line; the Brown Line Capacity Expansion Project; delivery of 151 low-floor articulated buses; installation of an automated bus announcement system; upgrading the bus turnaround at 95th Street; renovating eight stations on the Dan Ryan Branch of the Red Line; the reconfiguration of Harrison Curve; upgrades to the signal and communications systems at Clark Junction; and the selection of a manufacturer for new 'L' cars.

The CTA projects a balanced budget as required by law. Public funding required for operations equals the funding mark of $453.5 million set by the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA). The Recovery Ratio, which measures the portion of operating expenses the CTA has to fund from revenues it generates, is forecast at 52.6 percent, which is slightly higher than the required ratio set by the RTA.

"This budget was developed after a year of meeting financial challenges. Through discipline and careful management, we have been able to develop a balanced budget for 2003," explained CTA President Frank Kruesi. "The CTA has made significant progress in a few short years. We overcame financial challenges and secured the funding necessary to invest in a system that was rapidly falling into disrepair. Given the weak economy and the uncertainty of state resources in the future, the CTA faces financial challenges in 2003 and beyond, but we are committed to continuing to provide the high quality service that CTA customers expect and deserve."

The Brown Line Capacity Expansion Project is designed to relieve congestion, meet anticipated increases in ridership, eliminate slow zones, and improve service delivery and passenger comfort. In addition, it will make the Brown Line accessible to all CTA customers, in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines. The CTA is working to secure a Full Funding Grant Agreement with the federal government to help fund this project.

Renovation of the Dan Ryan Branch of the Red Line will involve upgrading the bus turnaround at 95th Street and renovating eight stations located between Cermak Road and 87th Street. The work at each station will include replacing platform canopies, architectural components, existing escalators, station entrances and station houses, platform finishes, curb cuts and installing bus shelters.

As part of its aggressive replacement schedule to upgrade its fleet, the CTA will take delivery of 151 low-floor articulated buses to replace vehicles due for retirement. After advertising for bids in 2002, the CTA will select a manufacturer for up to 406 'L' cars. The new cars will replace one-third of the CTA's current rail fleet.

Construction is about to begin on the reconfiguration of Harrison Curve, one of the sharpest turns on the rail system. The new design will allow more trains to travel into the Loop per hour. Green and Orange Line trains will be able to increase their speed, relieving congestion and improving travel times for all four lines (Brown, Purple, Orange and Green) that use the Loop's elevated tracks.

Clark Junction will also be upgraded. Currently the CTA's busiest rail crossing on a 24-hour basis with 876 train movements on weekdays, Clark Junction is used by Red, Brown and Purple Line Express trains. Improvements will allow trains to travel through the junction faster, thereby relieving congestion and improving travel times for Red, Brown and Purple Line Express customers.

Security enhancements that were intensified in 2002 will continue to be refined in 2003. Initiatives include a redundant communications system, ongoing drills with the police and fire departments and a comprehensive incident command structure.

The Chicago Card will be introduced in fall 2002, offering customers the added convenience of touch and go access. More durable than Transit Cards, customers will not lose the remaining value on the Chicago Card if it is lost or stolen, once the card is registered.

?Link It," the Enterprise Resource Plan, which will improve electronic communication and recordkeeping throughout the entire agency, will continue implementation in 2003. Improving internal operations through technology will help to control and reduce operating costs, resulting in a more streamlined and efficient agency.

Even with all of these ambitious initiatives and projects, the CTA still has a great deal of work to do. It needs $5 billion over the next five years to bring the existing system into a state of good repair. Currently, the CTA has identified approximately $3.1 billion in funding and must secure an additional $1.9 billion to meet its needs.

"Weighing priorities against funding constraints and securing adequate funding in the future are the main financial challenges the agency faces in the years ahead," continued Kruesi. "We are grateful for the continuing support the CTA has received from Mayor Richard M. Daley, Governor George Ryan, U.S. House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert and many other elected officials at all levels of government. That bipartisan support demonstrates that public transit is an important part of the solution to regional traffic congestion."

Kruesi also thanked the RTA staff for its guidance during the preparation of this budget proposal.

2003 is a critical year for the CTA. The legislation that determines its federal funding levels, the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), will expire. Both Illinois FIRST and TEA-21 provide the funding that has made the CTA's capital improvements possible. Public transit is vital to the region and the CTA is committed to providing and continually enhancing solutions and services for its customers to meet today's demand as well as that of the future.

"The reauthorization of TEA-21 is essential for the CTA and its sister agencies to obtain the funding to meet the future needs of customers," added Kruesi. "We have worked hard to overcome financial challenges and secure the funding necessary to invest in a system that was rapidly falling into disrepair. Investment in the CTA is important to maintain our existing customers and attract new ones. Therefore we will be working hand-in-hand with the city, our sister agencies and the state to make sure the region's needs are considered during the reauthorization process."

The proposed budget is available for public review at the CTA's General Office at the Merchandise Mart, 300 N. Wells St., 7th floor, weekdays between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Regular, large print, Braille and audio copies are available at this location.

Copies are also available at the main office of the Regional Transportation Authority located at 181 W. Madison St., Suite 1900, Chicago until October 25. The RTA will relocate its main office to 175 W. Jackson, 15th floor, Chicago as of October 28. A copy of the budget summary is also posted on the CTA's web site at www.transitchicago.com. A list of libraries and additional locations where the document will be available is attached.

Public comment will be taken into consideration prior to Board approval of the budget. Both verbal and written comments will be accepted at a public hearing on Wednesday, October 30, 2002, at 6 p.m. in the Red Lacquer Room, 4th floor of the Palmer House Hilton, 17 E. Monroe, Chicago. Written comments can also be submitted to the Board until November 8, 2002. The correspondence should be addressed to Gregory Longhini, Assistant Secretary of the Board, Chicago Transit Authority, P.O. Box 3555, Chicago, IL 60654-0555.

Copies of the budget proposal will also be available at the reference desks of the following libraries:

Chicago Public Library(3 locations)Harold Washington Public Library400 S. State Street, 10th FloorChicago, IL 60605

Sulzer Regional Library4455 N. Lincoln Ave.Chicago, IL 60625

Woodson Regional Library9525 S. HalstedChicago, IL 60628

Evanston Public Library1703 Orrington Ave.Evanston, IL 60201

Evergreen Park Public Library9400 S. Troy Evergreen Park, IL 60805

Oak Park Public Library834 Lake StreetOak Park, IL 60301

Riverdale Public Library208 W. 144th StreetRiverdale, IL 60827

Skokie Public Library5215 W. OaktonSkokie, IL 60077

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