Discussion related to commuter rail and rapid transit operations in the Chicago area including the South Shore Line, Metra Rail, and Chicago Transit Authority.

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  by JamesT4
Here is an article I found in the Chicago Tribune today.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/cust ... 712.column

Fed up with CTA problems? Call Gov. Blagojevich

Published February 20, 2007

By Kyra Kyles

Are you tired of buses breaking down because they're overdue for replacement? Are you sick of CTA slow zones? Do you feel that too many "L" stations and rail cars are relics?

If so, you may want to take a break from holding on the 1-888-YOUR CTA hot line or dashing off angry e-mails to Mayor Daley demanding intervention.

Instead, direct your disappointment to Gov. Blagojevich's office.

On Monday, members of the Regional Transit Authority—the parent board of CTA, Metra and Pace—met with the Tribune editorial board to discuss its Moving Beyond Congestion recommendations.

In addition to asking the General Assembly for funding for this year, the plan asks state lawmakers to invest $10 billion in CTA, Metra and Pace—in the amounts of $5 billion, $4 billion and $1 billion, respectively—over the next 5 years in order to maintain, improve and expand the current systems across six counties.

CTA improvements could include upgrading outdated "L" signal systems, eliminating slow zones, and replacing or rehabbing aging buses and railcars.

Pushing that plan might sound like a no-brainer to CTA's regular--and increasingly rattled--riders, but public transit officials told "Going Public" that transportation is not exactly a hot topic in Springfield this year.

"I think the legislature is, in general, challenged, grappling with healthcare and school funding this spring," CTA chairwoman Carole Brown told "Going Public" in a phone interview Monday. "There will be a lot of priorities the legislature has to weigh."

Making matters worse, the CTA has stated that the RTA allotment of $5 billion for the CTA isn't enough.

"The CTA requested $5.8 billion," Brown said. "Only the CTA would have to shortchange some of its customers because the $5 billion is not enough to address all the needs of the system and get it into a state of good repair."

The CTA board was so disappointed by the difference between what it asked for and what the RTA is requesting that its members on Wednesday passed a resolution to resubmit capital needs to the RTA and request more explanation about regional transit priorities.

"RTA says that the region provides 2 million daily rides," said Brown, who also sits on the RTA board. "The CTA delivers 1.5 million of those rides."

RTA Chairman Jim Reilly acknowledged that the CTA is important to the region, but he said the agency isn't alone in unfunded capital projects. He also said he believes that the CTA can address serious issues with $5 billion.

"If you ask our other service boards, we didn't fully fund all the needs of Metra and Pace either," Reilly said, adding that any budget figure had to pass the "laugh test" with lawmakers in order for it to be approved.

Budget bickering aside, Reilly and Brown were in agreement on one issue: Getting the $10 billion from the state will be a challenge, unless public transit officials and the public make it a priority.

"Call the governor's office," Brown said, when asked what riders could do. "When I say that the decision is up to lawmakers, sometimes customers feel we're passing along the responsibility, but that is not the case.

"If you want to see changes, let the governor know." Even if you don't think the CTA deserves to be championed in Springfield, you might want to make the call for yourself. You think the CTA is bad now?

Imagine, in five years, it could be much worse.