Wednesday, December 19, 2012

CTA approves 2013 Budget

The Chicago Transit Board unanimously approved the Chicago Transit Authority's (CTA) 2013 budget of $1.39 billion, a spending plan that maintains current service levels, freezes base fares and continues investment to modernize and repair infrastructure.

The board passed the budget following two public hearings held in December. The budget eliminates a projected deficit of $165 million through management efficiencies, improved labor cost management and a slight increase in CTA fare pass prices to bring them in line with other major U.S. cities, the first increase in four years. Revenues from fare passes will rise by 10 percent. The 2013 budget is the second consecutive budget that preserves capital investment in the CTA's bus and rail systems for years to come by not diverting scarce capital funds to balance the operating budget, a past practice that delayed critical infrastructure projects.

"The Chicago Transit Board supports this responsible, sound budget, which includes solid management practices and strategies, shared sacrifices with our labor partners and the forward-thinking necessary to allow the CTA to continue to evolve to meet the needs of its riders now and in the future," said Chicago Transit Board Chairman Terry Peterson. "This budget reflects a commitment to fiscal stability, which in turn allows the CTA to vigorously pursue its mission of delivering quality, affordable transit for its riders."

The budget reflects a tentative labor agreement with the Amalgamated Transit Union Locals #241 and #308, which slows the rate of growth in health care spending and emphasizes preventative care, among changes shaving approximately $50 million off the 2013 budget deficit. Agreements with a dozen other CTA unions resulted in similar changes contributing nearly $10 million of savings.

The budget also reflects management reforms that have already been put into place and continued reforms, including improved supply management practices, which are expected to save the agency an additional $50 million of costs annually.

The third component of CTA's strategy to ensuring fiscal stability includes price changes to its fare passes that will generate about $56 million of new revenue for the agency.

An additional fare change that was approved by the board was a $5 fare on transit trips originating at the O'Hare Blue Line station, which includes a $2.75 surcharge in addition to the base full fare of $2.25. CTA will work with the Chicago Department of Aviation to develop a system to exempt employees working on O'Hare International Airport property.

The budget also includes fare reductions for Chicago Public Schools students. To encourage school attendance, students currently paying 85 cents will only pay 75 cents.

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