Posted on 15. Oct, 2008 by admin in Uncategorized
by Dwayne T. Ervin
Chicago Transit Authority President Ron Huberman announced the proposed 2009 budget last Thursday in the midst of one of CTA’s most difficult years.
On October 29, CTAwill hold a public hearing on the budget to allow city residents to provide feedback on the proposal. The Chicago Transit Board must submit a budget to the RTA by November 15th and RTA must approve the budget by the end of the year.
The proposed 2009 operating budget is over $1.3 billion, which is $120 million higher than 2008. The CTA expects to generate over $600 million in fares and other revenue and anticipates over $720 million in public funding.
“We tried to keep the fare increase as modest as possible,” Huberman said. Even though the fares will increase, they will keep the same service, he stated.
With resources directed at operations–administrative and support staffing will be reduced by 396 positions compared to 2008. In addition, due to a reduced capital program, 236 positions that were funded by capital projects will be eliminated, for a total workforce reduction of 632. Bus fuel, which makes up 8 percent of the budget, is up 112 percent, $54 million more than in 2008. Energy costs at $40 million makes up 3 percent of the budget, and is up 34 percent from last year, while the agency has also seen increases in costs for sheet metal, wire, cable and asphalt.
The free rides for 2009 are estimated to cost $35.8 million. The average costs for free rides for seniors per day from March 17 through September 1st this year was $94,637. “We leveled money for the fleet with fewer broken buses,” Huberman continued. ”We have a $42.2 million deficit and the fare increase will lower it. We cannot cut more positions. There is no doomsday in essence,” he added.
The CTA had the highest rail rider ship in 41 years. The increase was due to higher gas prices. Reduced fare prices will remain the same. “People with disabilities are struggling financially,” he added. Disabled riders will pay reduced fares unless they are part of the Circuit Breaker program for free rides.
The proposed budget also includes an across-the-board fare increase an across-the-board fare increase, to begin in January 2009, which will generate an estimated $42.1 million. This will be the first time that bus and rail pass fares will increase since 1998 and, adjusting for inflation, the price will still remain below 1998 levels.