Annual CTA Proposed Reductions

I knew it must be time for the annual “dance” regarding the Chicago Transit Authority budgets when I saw this sign up on a bus stop near the Merchandise Mart. The sign detailed the threatened cuts to bus routes if 1) the CTA doesn’t get more money 2) the unions don’t give back their recently negotiated pay raises.

This is no way to run a state. This article in the Chicago Tribune describes the annual ritual:

The CTA made an offer today that its labor unions could refuse, and they quickly did: Give back a 3.5 percent pay raise this year in return for reducing employee layoffs and major cuts in bus and rail service that are set to begin Feb. 7.

The standoff threatens to cost 1,067 union and 100 nonunion employees their jobs as the CTA whittles away at a $300 million budget deficit that is caused mainly by tax-revenue declines linked to the recession.

But the public stands to feel much of the pain in less than three weeks when there will be longer waits between buses on 119 routes, 41 bus routes will have shorter hours and nine express bus routes will be eliminated.

Note – the unions aren’t being asked for cuts – they are being asked to give up scheduled pay raises. But of course they are balking at this; after all, why concede anything, when the politicians back down every time and just issue debt or raise taxes to cover it anyways?

No one knows how this will end; in the past the state always stepped in to throw more money at it, or come up with some sort of accounting or borrowing gimmick as a temporary fix, but our financial situation is getting more and more dire by the day.

For a while I was thinking of setting up a site dedicated to Illinois’ fiscal woes, but someone beat me to it. describes the state of our state, which is of course very bad. This site puts most of the blame on our broken and underfunded pension system, which is a prime culprit.

It will be interesting to see how the game of chicken plays out this year since our funding options are drying up; some day this game has to end with the draconian cuts being implemented to wake people up to the situation.

Cross posted at LITGM

8 thoughts on “Annual CTA Proposed Reductions”

  1. This is the “pothole syndrome” at work. If you try to force budget cuts, you get the most visible possible cuts in service to punish the voters who are so stingy.

    In California now, the DMV is closing three of every four Fridays due to budget cuts. I have to go in to renew my drivers’ license in person. I got a red light camera ticket a year ago that made me so angry, I refused to go to traffic school. The city in which it occurred, Costa Mesa, has a history of previous abuse by cutting the yellow light to less than the legal minimum three seconds. They got caught at it a few years ago and were ordered to refund the fines by the appeals court. What they did was to refund only the fines of those who pleaded “not guilty.”

    Well, someday I will get my refund but in the meantime, I have to go to the DMV and take the written test. The problem is that, when I tried to make an appointment to go in, the earliest was nearly two months from now. My license expires in a month.

    And so it goes in the “blue states.”

  2. Funny how politics can make the shiniest trains and buses objectively less reliable than the most decrepit bondo-and-duct-taped beater.

  3. Michael Kennedy said: “This is the “pothole syndrome” at work. If you try to force budget cuts, you get the most visible possible cuts in service to punish the voters who are so stingy.”

    Look for state parks to close en masse very soon. Something that people enjoy – and the money saved by closing them is like a drop in the ocean compared to the horrific pension plan and featherbedding messes that many states have. It is simply a punishment to the populus not intended to do anything but try to ensure the status quo.

  4. I like Reagan’s solution to this problem in the case of the air controllers. Is there another public official, somewhere, with the courage to fire striking govt workers? Perhaps eventually there will be.

  5. Not just fire, but put the union president in jail – and stick a $2.5mln penalty tag on the union.
    Of course, since then the union took back everything they lost, and even their president is the same scoundrel.
    And MTA, as I hear, propose to raise the ride price again, rather than to cut union’s benefits.

  6. Correction: the TWU100 president is not the same scoundrel. He was defeated by a track inspector (who promised to fight MTA) on Jan 13 this years.

  7. It will not end badly, it will end very well. But before it ends, it will get very bad. And that seems to be what is necessary for it to get better. So the sooner it gets worse, the better.

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