Citizens Taking Action for transit dependent riders
March 6, 2012
Giving Private Investments Firms Control Over Infrastructure
CTA Group Says Mayor's Plans Will Destroy Public Transit
Members of Citizens Taking Action, an organization of comprised of transit dependent riders, voted unanimously at their monthly meeting on Monday to come out against Mayor Rahm Emanuel's announcement of having private investment firms either own or operate public transit in Chicago. This approach calls for a "public-private partnership" for financing improvements to the infrastructure instead of the traditional methods.
Charles Paidock Secretary of the organization, said: “Public transit is a central municipal service, and we don't put money into a fare box to make some guy rich. I foresee three things happening: loss of control by the city, increased or added fares, and diminished service. And once it's done, there's no going back. Sometimes these deals are for contracts lasting 99 years. People such as myself depend on CTA every day. It isn't something you experiment with, and I fear the long term consequences. Also, inserting alleged controls over the process doesn't change the fundamental activity or conversion."
Another member, Kevin Peterson, said: "What is to stop the powers-to-be from cutting bus and train services to only during the rush hour, since this is when the system is most profitable? They would get rid of any routes that don't have, to use their term, a "revenue stream." Longer headways or increased waiting time is almost certain to happen, which always results in diminished ridership, and less revenue. As for people working 2nd or 3rd shirts, they will be stranded with no way to get home."
Harry Brooks, points out that he travelled to New Orleans, LA over the Christmas holidays and discovered that public transit suffered noticibly due to partial privatization (schedules).
The group points out that this approach was tried not long ago by the famous London Underground, setting up a firm called Metronet, which had disastrous results. Contracts that were supposed to deliver upgrades to 35 stations over three years in fact only delivered 14, or just 40%. Stations that were supposed to cost Metronet £2 million in fact cost £7.5 million, 375% of the original stated price. After five years only 65% of scheduled track renewal had been achieved.
Metronet’s demise only cost its five parent companies £70 million each. It cost the tax payer £1.7 billion. This means each parent company has lost just 4.1% in comparison to the city. A review committee determined that the model of public-private partnerships (PPP) itself "is flawed and probably inferior to traditional public-sector management." (More Information)
The transit group has affiliated itself with another termed "Illinois Coalition to Protect the Public Commons" (ICPPC). The organization maintains that: "As we saw with the Chicago parking meters, when public assets are privatized the public pays and the private companies profit. Private companies invest for fast profits and fat bonuses. To do this, they quickly raise prices, reduce services and/or quality, replace public workers with fewer, less-skilled workers, cut back on long-term maintenance, and exploit public grants and tax exemptions."