The Chicago Transit Board approved a $1.24 billion budget for 2012 that holds the line on fares and maintains current service levels, relying on deep management cuts and work rule changes from labor unions. The proposed budget is $66.2 million, or 5.1 percent, less than the 2011 budget.
“The Chicago Transit Board supports this budget, recognizing that the administration has already implemented deep management cuts and a series of efficiencies and is committed to working with labor partners so we can preserve jobs and avoid potential fare hikes and service cuts that will directly impact our riders,” said Chicago Transit Board Chairman Terry Peterson. “This budget reflects a commitment to reforming the CTA at every level and we believe it charts the right course to support the CTA’s mission of delivering quality, affordable transit for its riders.”
Management initiatives will help reduce the existing $277 million deficit by $117 million and the proposed budget will close the remaining gap with anticipated work rule changes, health care reform and restraint in wage growth consistent with other metropolitan transit agencies.
“The CTA still faces tremendous financial pressures, but we believe that by working with our labor partners we can preserve the good jobs and benefits for many of our employees following the worst recession in recent history,” said CTA President Forrest Claypool. “By working together, we can protect the interests of both our employees and the customers we serve.”
The CTA has borrowed a combined $554 million since the start of the recession in 2008, and implemented a fare hike in 2009 along with deep service cuts in 2010. Despite these actions, the CTA faces escalating costs that far exceed other big city transit agencies.
Despite these financial challenges, the CTA has moved quickly since May to improve security, services and infrastructure throughout its system. In six months:
• More police have been added and hundreds of new surveillance cameras have been placed in rail stations, an initiative which has already assisted police in making numerous arrests;
• Bus Tracker technology has been rolled out at bus shelters to let passengers know exactly when their bus is coming;
• The “Station Renewal” program was launched to improve the cleanliness and aesthetics of rail stations by utilizing “Renew Crews,” SWAT teams of tradespeople to deep clean, repair and improve more than 100 stations and subways;
• The first of hundreds of new rail cars with modern technology and passenger amenities has been introduced and hundreds more will be rolled out in the next three years and
• The agency helped secure $1 billion for planned improvements to the Red Line, its most utilized rail line.
“We are committed to serving our customers at the highest levels,” said Claypool.