Citizens Taking Action
for transit dependent riders
3211 S. Union Avenue, Chicago, IL 60616
Press Release / Opinion March 29, 2017
Maintenance and Expansion Projects May Be Shelved
Transit Group Opposed to Cuts in Federal Funding
From the perspective of a transit advocate and dependent rider, it is somewhat discouraging to learn that the Trump administration has issued a preliminary budget that cuts, rather than increases, funding for public transit.
It is difficult at this time to predict exactly the immediate affect of this decision on the shared budgets CTA, Pace, and Metra, given the status of various infrastructure projects or the fleet age of vehicles.
The two greatest fears of any passenger is a cut in service or an increase in fares, which seem likely to happen given budget constraints such as this. Projects necessary to keep that rail systems in good repair are funded largely by the federal budget. The current cost of restoring an L station, and making it handicapped accessible, for example, is about $40 million. In the event this source of funding is cut, the result is either there is diminished service or an increase in fares, since the difference must be made up from funding for operations.
What is particularly of concern is that the Trump budget maintains funding for highways at the same, if not higher, level.
For the first time in many years financing for public transit in the region had quieted down, and there were no major issues with the budgets. It appeared that some stability had come to this aspect of governing.
In addition, our studies indicate that CTA has been decreasing the size and hours of operation for a number of years. Over 50 bus routes have been eliminated, and over 100 L stations have been taken down, since the system was organized in 1947. Bus routes and L lines that offer 24 hour, seven day a week service are diminished. Late evening and weekend services have largely been discontinued.
It is difficult to attract new riders to a transit system that offers few commuting options. A current topic and concern among transportation managers are passengers who are confronted with the “last mile,” or no way to reverse commute, and get to a suburban job.
Whereas the appropriation process appears to be completed sometime soon, it is imperative that passengers contact their elected officials at this time, and express their concerns regarding the decision to reduce funding at the federal level.