Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) President Forrest Claypool proposed a $1.39 billion budget for 2013 that maintains current service levels, freezes base fares and calls for modest reductions in discounts for CTA passes to bring them in line with other major U.S. cities.
The budget reflects a new, tentative labor agreement with the Amalgamated Transit Union Locals #241 and #308, which represent CTA bus and rail operators. The four-year tentative agreement slows the rate of growth in health care spending and emphasizes preventative care, among changes shaving approximately $50 million off the 2013 budget deficit. Agreements with a dozen other CTA unions resulted in similar changes contributing nearly $10 million toward deficit reduction.
But facing a $165 million shortfall for 2013, the CTA needed to take further steps to shore up its finances in both 2013 and beyond. Additional management reforms have paid off with tens of millions in savings and modest reductions in pass discounts will balance the remainder of the budget and ensure future fiscal stability.
Base fares remain unchanged at $2 for bus and $2.25 for rail. The discounts for passes (3-day, 7-day and 30-day) will be reduced by $6, $5 and $14, respectively, but still will provide significant discounts to frequent users. The one-day pass, primarily used by tourists, will have its discount reduced by $4.25. CTA pass discounts are currently the second most generous of major U.S. cities.
Discounts for CPS students will actually increase by 12%. To encourage school attendance, students currently paying 85 cents will only pay 75 cents.
“Our management reforms have taken well over $50 million in costs out of the system and our labor partners have helped us bend the cost curve, “ Claypool said. “These changes put the ‘doomsday’ budgets of the past behind us. We’re moving forward, and building a modern CTA on a strong fiscal footing."
Changes to the labor contracts will allow the CTA to hire more tradesmen as well as additional customer assistants and bus and rail janitors, improving customer service and the cleanliness of facilities and vehicles.
Additionally, over the last 18 months Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the CTA have launched more than $2 billion in modernization projects, upgrading aging infrastructure and improving the customer experience.