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November 14, 2013

Chicago transit 2014 budget freezes fares, preserves service

The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) board of directors approved a balanced $1.38 billion budget that freezes fares and preserves service levels while continuing the agency’s investment in projects and programs to improve and modernize service.

The budget reflects the ongoing positive impacts of operational efficiency reforms that have reduced unnecessary spending. It also includes 1,000 new customer-facing jobs the CTA was able to create in 2013 from efficiency measures put into place and the new collective bargaining agreement. Efficiency reforms have included modernizing supply chain operations. That has reduced excess inventory and lowered materials expenses and worker absenteeism — which declined in 2012 and 2013 — and is estimated to save the agency $10 million a year.

In 2014, the agency will continue its $4 billion capital investment plan, begun in 2011 as part of Mayor Emanuel’s Building a New Chicago program. Those plans include rehabilitating rail stations, modernizing rail and bus fleets, and bringing the agency’s massive infrastructure into a state of good repair to improve reliability and safety for customers.

The 2014 operating budget is the third consecutive CTA budget that preserves capital investment in the transit system without diverting capital funds to balance the operating budget, a past practice that stunted critical infrastructure projects. It is also balanced despite the challenges of state budget cuts and higher unfunded state mandates for health care, pension costs and providing free and discounted rides.

CTA is continuing its historic level of investment in its bus and rail systems and follows the CTA’s successful delivery of a brand new Red Line South railroad on time and on budget in October 2013.

Major projects that will begin or continue in 2014 include those that benefit customers and will boost local economic development in Chicago’s neighborhoods, such as:

  • The new 95th Street Terminal, a $240 million project that will expand and upgrade the 95th/Dan Ryan station, connecting Far South Side communities to job centers throughout the region and serving as a transit gateway for the South Side and suburbs.
  • The $203 million reconstruction of the Wilson station into a modern, accessible transfer station for Red and Purple Lines.
  • The new CTA station at Cermak/McCormick on the Green Line.
  • The Ravenswood Connector project to upgrade track and related rail structure between the Chicago and Armitage stations on the elevated Brown and Purple Express lines.

The CTA in 2014 will continue with its program to overhaul or replace its bus and rail fleets to provide more reliable and comfortable service to customers while reducing operational costs to the agency. This includes adding new Nova buses to its fleet in 2014.

The CTA will also continue to take delivery of 5000 Series railcars. These are the CTA’s first new railcars in 20 years. The 5000 Series have been added to the Pink and Green Lines and are currently replacing older cars on the Red Line.

The agency anticipates receiving bids by the end of the year for the next generation of railcars, the 7000 Series, to replace the CTA’s oldest cars and reduce the average age of its fleet to approximately 10 years by 2022 from a high of more than 25 years old in 2011.

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