CTA’s proposed budget continues capital investment pushWritten by Jenifer Nunez, assistant editor
Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) President Forrest Claypool proposed a balanced $1.38 billion budget that maintains transit service and holds the line on customer fares, while continuing investment in projects and programs to improve service and modernize regional transit.
The budget reflects the positive impacts of operational efficiency reforms to reduce wasteful spending and manage day-to-day operations more efficiently. The budget also includes the 1,000 customer-facing jobs the CTA created in 2013 to better serve passengers.
In 2014, the agency will continue its ambitious $4 billion capital investment plan that began in 2011, including rehabilitating rail stations, modernizing rail and bus fleets and bringing the agency’s massive infrastructure into a state of good repair to improve reliability and safety.
“The CTA has operated efficiently and responsibly with three straight years of balanced budgets after inheriting a $308 million deficit in 2011,” said Claypool. “We’ve done so through rigorous management reforms that have reduced waste and trimmed spending, while upholding service and fare levels for our customers and creating permanent jobs that better serve passengers. Our new collective bargaining agreement with CTA labor unions has also contributed significantly to the financial turnaround, allowing us to reduce costs while also adding good service-providing jobs for union members.”
The budget reflects management reforms previously put into place, including modernizing supply chain operations to better track purchases and inventory and achieve lowest-cost pricing. It also includes progress in lowering absenteeism, which has declined in 2012 and 2013 and is estimated to save the agency $10 million a year.
The CTA is continuing its historic level of investment and follows the CTA’s successful delivery of a the new Red Line South in 2013 on time and on budget, which will benefit 80,000 daily Red Line South passengers.
Next year, the CTA will begin construction of a new 95th Street Terminal, a $240-million project that will expand and upgrade the 95th/Dan Ryan station, connecting Far South Side communities to job centers throughout the region and serving as a transit gateway for the South Side and suburbs.
Work will also begin on the reconstruction of the Wilson Red Line station into a modern Red-Purple transfer station, as well as on the Green Line at Cermak, all projects that benefit customers and will boost local economic development in Chicago’s neighborhoods.
Also in 2014, CTA will continue its $71.2 million Ravenswood Connector project to upgrade track and related rail structure between the Chicago and Armitage stations on the elevated Brown and Purple Express lines.
The CTA will also continue a major plan to replacing or overhauling its bus and rail fleets to increase reliability and comfort for itscustomers, including taking delivery of and procuring new rail cars.
Total ridership on the CTA is expected to grow in 2014 from this year to 534.6 million (a jump of nearly one percent), returning to slightly above 2011 levels.