CTA Focusing on Preparing for Cuts and Calling for Support on Transit Funding
With just one week to go before service cuts, fare increases and layoffs of 600 CTA employees become reality, CTA officials gathered at Kedzie Garage on the West Side today to remind customers of the coming changes if a state funding package for transit is not approved. As the clock winds down to September 16, the CTA is informing riders of the upcoming changes and urging transit supporters to contact their state legislators and make their views on sufficient funding for public transit heard.
"Last Tuesday's vote on public transit funding was certainly a disappointment, particularly considering the hard work we have done to build a coalition of bi-partisan support, along with CTA union support. Without the much needed state funding, we will be forced to move ahead with the fare increases, service cuts and layoffs next Sunday," said CTA President Ron Huberman. ?Without funding from the state legislature 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. At Kedzie Garage, six routes are scheduled for elimination. Together, they transport more than 11,000 riders every weekday."
?We are preparing our riders for the impact by deploying CTA employees to provide information, distribute brochures and flyers with the details. We have also posted signs on buses and trains, at bus stops and stations, and on our web site to make sure that our 1.6 million daily riders will know what to expect," explained Huberman. ?At the same time, we want to encourage everyone to continue to make their support for public transit heard. There is a link on CTA's home page that will let customers send messages directly to legislators."
Starting next week, up to 100 additional CTA staff will be out at rail stations and bus stops to providing service and fare increase information to customers. In addition, CTA has put together a comprehensive plan to educate riders about fare changes and service reductions including notices at rail stations, on buses and on trains, and at eliminated bus stops. In addition, brochures and print ads will help to inform riders. CTA's web site features detailed information regarding the service cuts and fare increases, including information on eliminated routes and alternative options, the modified fare structure, and ways customers can contact their state legislators. CTA has also worked with the RTA to prepare its trip planner to be ready with post-September 16 routes, and to give notice about service and fare changes.
Information has been sent to all registered Chicago Card and Chicago Card Plus customers and to administrators of Transit Benefit programs. The demand for Chicago Cards has risen dramatically since a waiver went into effect on September 1. The first weekend of the waiver saw 600 requests for Chicago Cards compared to prior average of 50 per day. Information on the fare increases has been sent to vendors who sell CTA fare media.
CTA customer service has added some temporary call takers to help handle increased call volume. Revisions have also been made to all printed materials to reflect the new fares and reduced service including CTA service maps and brochures, and all price decals on fare machines.
LED signs at stations have been updated with information on the service cuts and fare increases and new messages have been recorded for the automated announcement system on CTA buses.
?I cannot stress enough how much we regret having to move ahead with these plans. These cuts and fare increases will hurt everyone ? our riders, motorists and our employees ? 600 of whom are losing their jobs due to insufficient funding," said Chicago Transit Board Chairman Carole Brown. ?Without action from Springfield that allows us to avert this damage, this agency will be forced to continue to plan even deeper and broader cuts for next year. Along with the correlating loss in ridership, CTA service will not just be damaged but decimated."
As things stand now, the service cuts go into effect on Sunday, September 16, 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, September 17 when all 39 bus route suspensions go into 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.
Fare increases will also go into effect on September 16. 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 for September and October.
Due to the service reductions, the CTA will layoff a commensurate number of employees. Plans call for layoffs of over 600 employees, including bus operators, bus servicers, mechanics and Transportation Managers. In earlier cost cutting efforts, 75 administrative jobs were eliminated. Following last month's layoff notification to employees, CTA's human resources department developed measures to help employees plan and prepare for layoffs. At the end of August 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.
The CTA's plan combines labor savings and administrative cuts and efficiencies with a fare increase, an 8% reduction in bus service, and the transfer of capital funds that had been intended for renovating buses and rail cars. These measures will bridge the gap in CTA's 2007 budget that was created because the agency, under a directive from the Regional Transportation Authority, developed a 2007 budget that anticipated $110 million in additional state funding. As of today, the General Assembly has not approved a transit funding package, so the CTA must move ahead with its plan in order to balance its budget. The CTA is required by law to have a balanced budget.
"I have talked with many of our riders and I understand that they are frustrated. This is not the scenario either CTA or any of our sister transit agencies wanted to be in come September," added Huberman. ?We only have a handful of days left to get state action and I can assure all of our riders that we will continue to make every effort to make September 16 just one more day of the month, not the day that signals the decline of transit in the region."# # #