Proposed 2019 Budget Holds the Line on Fares, Preserves Service Levels

October 18, 2018 12:02 PM

Spending plan continues historic modernization efforts, but lack of state funding for operations and improvements presents significant challenges

The Chicago Transit Authority today proposed a balanced $1.552 billion operating budget that maintains bus and train fares at their current levels, preserves bus and rail service, and continues investment to modernize the CTA and improve the customer experience.

“I am pleased to present a spending plan that not only maintains vital transit service in neighborhoods across the city, but also continues our investment to improve and modernize our service,” said CTA President Dorval R. Carter, Jr. “And I’m especially pleased to be able to hold the line on fares, despite the many financial pressures our agency is facing.”

The CTA is also proposing a $2.9 billion five-year capital budget for 2019-2023, continuing more than $8 billion of historic transit investment completed, begun or announced by Mayor Rahm Emanuel since 2011. Those projects include rehabilitating rail stations and building new ones, modernizing rail and bus fleets, removing rail slow zones and adding new technologies—work that improves reliability, reduces commuting times, strengthens safety and security, and improves the overall commuting experience.

The 2019 budget includes more than $20 million in cost savings and operational efficiencies. Among the cost-cutting steps are freezing hiring for 150 positions and locking in fuel and power costs at historically low prices. Since 2015 under President Carter, the CTA has achieved more than $150 million in cost-cutting savings, operational efficiencies and additional non-farebox revenue.

But cost savings alone won’t address the agency’s financial challenges, Carter said. “The reduced state funding to support our day-to-day operations, combined with the lack of state funding for our capital projects, is unprecedented,” Carter said, noting that the state last passed a capital funding bill—which supports investment in infrastructure—in 2009.

“Without adequate state funding, we simply cannot continue to provide the level of service we do, while holding the line on fares,” Carter said.

Despite the funding challenges, CTA in 2019 will continue to pursue projects to modernize the system and improve service to customers. The agency will continue to make notable investments in its bus and rail system – including some of the largest projects in CTA history, such as the Red-Purple Modernization project, a $2.1 billion investment to modernize and add capacity to the CTA’s busiest rail corridor. CTA will also continue to enhance the overall customer experience by investing in public art at our rail stations.

Among the capital projects to continue or begin in 2019:

  • Completion of the 95th Street Terminal on the Red Line
  • Continuing work on Phase 1 of the Red and Purple Modernization Program, which includes rebuilding four Red Line stations, and track and signal systems, and constructing a rail bypass to meet current and future capacity needs
  • Completion of the Garfield Green Gateway projects
  • Your New Blue – Belmont & Jefferson Park rehabilitations
  • King Drive Green Line
  • Delivery of 20 new electric buses
  • Delivery of the prototype 7000-series railcar, CTA’s newest-generation railcar

Many of the capital projects will feature distinctive architecture and public art from notable Chicago and international artists, part of ongoing efforts to make public transportation more attractive and to highlight communities.

A public hearing will be held on November 7, 2018 at 6 p.m. at CTA headquarters, 567 W. Lake Street, second floor conference room, Chicago, Illinois, 60661.

Written and oral comments will be taken into consideration prior to Chicago Transit Board action. 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. Comments also may be submitted in writing either via email to: glonghini1@transitchicago.com or via fax: 312-681-5035. The deadline to submit written comments is Wednesday, November 14, 2018 by 12 noon.

The proposed budget is available for public review at the CTA Headquarters reception desk, second floor, 567 W. Lake Street, Chicago, Illinois, 60661, weekdays between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

Copies are also available for review in standard size print and large print at the main office of the Regional Transportation Authority, reception desk, Suite 1650, 175 West Jackson, Chicago, Illinois, 60604; at the Archer Heights Branch Library, 5055 South Archer Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60632; Austin Branch Library, 5615 West Race Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60644; Harold Washington Public Library, 400 South State Street, 5th floor, Chicago, Illinois, 60605; Jefferson Park Branch Library, 5363 West Lawrence Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60630; South Shore Branch Library, 2505 East 73rd Street, Chicago, Illinois 60649; West Town Branch Library, 1625 West Chicago Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60622; Evanston Public Library, 1703 Orrington Avenue, Evanston, Illinois, 60201;  Evergreen Park Public Library, 9400 South Troy, Evergreen Park, Illinois, 60805; Oak Park Public Library, 834 Lake Street, Oak Park, Illinois 60301; Riverdale Public Library, 208 West 144th Street, Riverdale, Illinois, 60827; and at the Skokie Public Library, 5215 West Oakton, Skokie, Illinois, 60077.

A copy of the proposed budget is also posted on the CTA's web site at www.transitchicago.com.

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