Lake County Motorist

Suburban Chicagoland commuter and motorist weblog

Slow going

Tonight’s commute lasted over an hour and a half, and this was via mass transit.

It all started when the flakes began falling from the sky.

Traffic was extremely thick and slow. Pace Shuttle Bug buses run in traffic, so the heavier-than-usual traffic made the shuttles late. The train was late due to some sort of mechanical issue. All of this tacked an extra 45 minutes onto what is normally a consistently-timed transit commute.

Thankfully, being a snow passenger is much less stressful than being a snow driver. The carpal tunnel syndrome wolf remained caged, the Patience-O-Meter registered abnormally high readings, and nobody was endangered when I fell asleep in the middle of the trip.

Up for Wednesday: Back to the roads? Or will I win the Metra parking lot(tery)? Can’t wait to find out.

Filed under: Commuting, ,

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, , , , , ,

Inside the RTA "doomsday" scenario

So, another doomsday is coming on January 20 for the RTA. Let’s say the state doesn’t intervene with money; what’s going to happen for Pace and Metra?

Metra says it will:

  • Raise fares 10% (according to “January 2008 Budget Shortfall Option A”), -or- raise fares by 5% and eliminate Sunday service (“Budget Shortfall Option B”)
  • Raise prices for weekend passes
  • Reduce janitorial positions; trains will be cleaned less frequently (great, now Metra will be as dirty as the El)
  • Eliminate 100 jobs
  • Enact additional 10% fare increases for the next two years

Pace says it will:

  • Increase fares
  • Eliminate weekend service
  • Eliminate Metra feeder routes (“Shuttle Bugs”)
  • Eliminate 27 routes

Let’s see how long it will take before the state money comes through and the doomsday snooze button is pressed, but the alarm is not turned off. This is, what, Round 3? How many times must the wolf huff and puff and threaten to blow the house down before someone fortifies the structure with brick?

Scott Kleinberg writes in his blog post, “Funding crisis numbing/dulling our senses?”:

Know what it will take for there to be a superhero in Springfield? Legislators who meet, vote and actually come up with a permanent solution to the transit funding crisis. “Finding” extra money to put it off temporarily only to see another Doomsday in two months isn’t acceptable in any way.

Filed under: Mass Transit, , , ,

13 days until Doomsday…RTA Doomsday, that is

From the State of Illinois’ website:

On January 20, the CTA, Metra and Pace plan to implement dramatic service cuts, fare increases, and layoffs if no long-term funding solution is passed by the Illinois General Assembly.
Join the Governor’s fight to protect mass transit service. Send a message to your legislators today about how a transit doomsday could impact you and why a solution needs to be passed now.

You can send a message to your elected officials via the provided contact form. As with many such things, it’s likely that the funding will be supported by a tax hike – in this case, a 0.25% hike in the sales tax.

These guys have got to figure something out soon. Congestion, gas prices and population growth are squeezing the roads. Chicagoans need as many efficient transportation options as possible.

Link via CTA Tattler.

Filed under: Mass Transit, , , ,

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