Lake County Motorist

Suburban Chicagoland commuter and motorist weblog

Transit "doomsday" averted, and I can prove it

While every major Chicago news outlet declared the RTA funding crisis resolved last night, I held back. My reason was simple: The deed wasn’t fully “done”.  Although the legislature passed the funding bill on Thursday, Blagojevich still had to certify the bill today for it to become law.

Some thought it was unlikely that Blago would reject the bill at this point – especially since today was the last business day until Doomsday – but I didn’t think anything was impossible. I didn’t think he’d pull the “free rides for seniors” stunt last week either.

But here it is: Confirmation of Blago’s certification of the bill on January 18, making House Bill 656 a law. Process completed, deed done, and it’s for real this time. Your Metra train, Pace shuttle bug and CTA bus will be in their usual places come Monday morning.

I do find this passage funny, especially since it isn’t true (boldface emphasis is mine):

With a long-term funding plan in place, the Chicago area transit agencies have said they will not cut services, raise fares or lay-off workers on January 20, as planned.

Last I checked, Metra is a “Chicago area transit agency.” Someone really should let them know that they said they won’t raise fares. Maybe it should be the guy who said he wouldn’t raise taxes.

And finally, this vague November 2007 statement from Metra:

If a transit-funding package comes out of Springfield in the coming weeks, the 2008 proposed Metra budget would be revised to reflect additional dollars.

If you make your statement vague enough, it will be hard for someone to say you didn’t keep your promise because it isn’t quite clear what you promised. Metra could place a unicorn in every train car and it wouldn’t be a violation of  “budget….revised to reflect additional dollars.” Just ensure there’s enough money to keep cleaning those trains, OK?

Filed under: Mass Transit, , , , , ,

Council rejects bus service because fare is "too cheap"

No, this isn’t news from Springfield and as far as I know we are still “doomed“.
I thought it would be interesting to read about transit hijinks in other parts of the world. You know, because everything that happens elsewhere can be translated and critiqued through the life and experiences of a Chicagoan [/end sarcasm].

From Singapore courtesy of SimplyJean – “PTC rejected new trial route because fare was too cheap“:

I was a little shocked that a trial bus service to serve the residents of the Yio Chu Kang estate was rejected because the fare that was proposed wasn’t high enough. . .So while the MP for the GRC lobbied for a premium service, PTC rejected the only respondent – SMRT, on the grounds that the fare of S$1.30 is too low. . .

When the proposal was submitted to the Public Transport Council (PTC) in June, it was rejected because the fare proposed ($1.30 per trip) was not appropriate for a premium bus service, usually priced between $2 to $3 per trip.

Wow. Sounds like things are done differently in Singapore. Different culture, different needs, different expectations.

Or are they?

I guess it depends on your definition of “premium service” in Chicagoland: The bus exists, the train is cleaned every now and then, and everybody is free to ride so long as Somebody Else pays for it, and they’ll pay a premium indeed!

Filed under: Mass Transit, , ,

So are we “doomed” or not?

RTA Doomsday ’08 is six days away, and here’s where we are so far:

Metra is still going to raise fares by 10%.

Governor Blagojevich wants a provisions so that senior citizens can ride public transit for free. He’s now added a provision that the disabled have to ride for free too. If this passes, somebody will have to pay for these “free” rides, which could mean a fare increase for everybody else. What’s with all of the, ahem, roadblocks to passage of a transit funding bill? What next?

Stay tuned on Monday to see what, if any, progress is made towards resolution of this funding debacle.

Filed under: Mass Transit, , , ,

Even with funding, Metra’s still raising the fares

Metra is moving forward with plans to increase fares by 10% on February 1, doomsday funding or no doomsday funding. However, the planned increases for 2009 and 2010 – previously expected to be 10% each time – may no longer be needed if the state money comes through.

My first reaction to this increase is “ouch!” 10% is a significant hike. Just ask the guy who receives a 10% pay raise, or is slammed by a 10% tax increase, if he notices the difference in his wallet. 10% is large enough to cause a person to change how they spend their money.

Gas prices have increased more than that over the past year, and therefore Metra’s expenses have also increased. I understand that. The unfortunate reality is that prices go up, rarely down, over time. However, 10% is enough to send me back to the spreadsheets and figure out if Metra is still going to save me money.

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Mass Transit, ,

Do suburbanites care about the CTA funding crisis?

More accurately, do suburbanites care about the RTA funding crisis, as this fiasco encompasses more than just the Chicago Transit Authority. Judging from blog posts and news commentary, some suburbanites do care about the transit funding situation. Their views sometimes vary – from those of Chicagoans, and from those of other suburbanites – on how it should be resolved.

A Chicagoan thoughtfully explores the funding issue, the CTA’s relationship with Momma RTA, and why suburbanites should care about transit funding.

Here’s McHenry County Blog’s take on the funding foibles as they relate to McHenry County, Lake County’s neighbor to the west.

Suburban legislators voted their opposition to the latest funding bill.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Metra’s Union Pacific North line’s new Sunrise Express has beat ridership expectations. Trains leave from and arrive at the Waukegan terminus at unbelievably early hours on weekdays, with the first southbound train leaving at 4:20 a.m.

“People can argue all they want about what to do about mass transit,” [state Sen. Susan] Garrett said. “But here’s a real success story.”

A Spring Grove reader sent his thoughts on the issue to the Lake County Journal.

And finally, here’s a comment sent to the Daily Herald by an Elgin commuter.

Filed under: Mass Transit, , , , ,

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