CTA approves express bus cuts, rail hikes

The Chicago Transit Authority approved a new budget this morning that raises fares and dramatically cuts bus  service starting September 16.

The agency faces a shortfall of $110 million. Unless state legislators approve a budget covering the CTA deficit before next month, the service reductions will go into effect.

T. Herman, 40, lives in Edgewater with her two children, ages seven and eight. She worries about getting the girls to their school, six miles south of her home in Old Town.

"If I can't get a bus, I have to get a car. If they cut services, I'm in trouble," she said. "It's ridiculous."

CTA Board Chairman Carole Brown said the cuts were brought on by years of shrinking state funding for Chicago's transit system.

"This day is a day we'd hoped would never come. I am disappointed that we are forced to put our customers at the point of having to consider service cuts," she said. "Eliminating bus routes could strand people who have no other means of transporation."

The CTA originally considered fare hikes of 63% for some passes, but instead approved the following fare changes:

  • Cash bus fares will rise to $2.50
  • El riders will pay $3 during rush hour and $2.50 at other times.
  • A thirty day pass will increase from $75 to $84, or twelve percent.
The budget suspends 39 bus routes, including the Marine/Michigan Express, the Union/Wacker Express, and 17 other express routes.

The agency will also pare 700 jobs and put 314 fewer buses on the street during rush hour.

The preparation for the layoff began last month with federally mandated notification to employees who could lose their jobs.

"We feel strongly that we must do everything we can to help the employees we will be forced to let go as a result of insufficient funding," said Huberman. "We have to be realistic and prepare our employees. Layoffs will cause tremendous hardship for employees and their families."

One of those workers is bus driver John Ray.

"If they're going to lay off so many people, the state is going to have to pay huge amounts of unemployment," Ray said. "Why not just give the CTA that money now so they don't have to go around firing people? If Mayor Daley wants to get the Olympics here in 2016, and they cut transit, there aren't going to be any Olympics. I think they all need to stop this bullshit."