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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Plan To Save CTA - Not Bad - Pass it or Throw the Bums Out!

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Today's Chicago Tribune had a front page story (How drastic cuts redraw transit map - Worst-case scenarios create bus-service dead zones^ with graphics showing what would happen Monday morning to Chicago's CTA if the Illinois State Legislature did not vote through the revised legislation to fund CTA. This includes the Seniors Ride For Option that I joked about earlier this week, and a Mortgage Transfer Tax Plan that I did not joke about.

As long as it applies to all mortgages and not just homeowners, its a great idea. I've not seen the legislation so I am not sure which it is. See my reasons why below in the message I posted on Gary Washburn's blog Clout Street. Washburn is the Chicago Tribune's Transportation Editor as well as all or any of the other beats he carries. I hope Washburn goes ahead and approves it for his regular readers.

Eric Zorn did approve yesterday's comments that I made for his blog about the Free Senior riding plan and that brought several new people here to read more about it. To read more on my comments about CTA over the years, just put CTA in the blue search box above and make sure "Peter Files Blog" is the selected option.

If the state legislators and Governor can't figure out a way to fund CTA, a STATE agency, & transit in Illinois, perhaps we should start to vote them out. Every darn one of them, up and down the state. Democrat and Republican, until we can get a legislature that can work together.

There's no darn reason that up-state and down-state Illinois should have to put up with this petty politics year after year that continually brings things to a standstill.

Look buckos: this state needs transit, it needs roads that are in good repair, it needs well funded schools. All over the state. Not just in the six county region, not just in Cairo. Needs may differ in different areas, but our need to pull together for the mutual good is ongoing.

Watching the ongoing infighting & picking away at State vital resources is sickening.

Picking away at CTA year after year is akin to peeling away the county road structure one road at a time. Chicagoan's shouldn't have to put up with it anymore than farmers should have to put up with losing local roads and bridges to serial decay.

We have to find a way to fund them all. Because the consequences are real and affect the whole state.

What the Tribune story this morning about bus rider diversions after service cuts missed was that there is a limit to how far people will walk to take the bus, how long people will wait to take the bus, and how much crowding people will tolerate on a bus before they take an alternative to transit.

And don't kid yourself, these folks are not going to be car-pooling, and many of these new drivers are going to be without insurance in sub-standard cars, with no clear plan to park where you drivers are parking right now.

Think it won't affect you? Just one bus that might be cut can carry about 75 cars worth of people into the loop. But worse yet, the story talked about thousands of people diverted to rail. EACH rail car can carry about 800 cars worth into the loop. Wonder if your favorite parking garage is going to be full when you get there Monday morning.

I have no problems as a homeowner with the transfer tax. At least it is a stable source of income for CTA.

It better be applied to commercial properties though, right? They flip over a lot more than our homes do. Also, homeowner transfer taxes impact transient homeowners disproportionately, those who come in and out of town for only a few years because their job moves them around. If you are a long time resident, it should not hurt you much. It will also help build stability in our neighborhoods and works really well in other states.

Another benefit, unlike a straight sales tax, when the economy tanks and food and TV sales fall, and banks buy up a lot of commercial and local property as investment, sales tax revenue may fall, but the mortgage transfer tax is a lot more recession proof. In fact, if we get hit with a big oil based inflation, transit is protected.

So, if the economy tanks and you lose your job, at least you won't have to deal with rising CTA fares. Besides, you're going to roll the cost of that tax into your mortgage and wind up deducting it, right?

The way transit's been funded here is something we've had to cringe far too many times. Lets get the CTA operational funding taken care of for a good long time so that the CTA can do real long range planning instead of uncertain piecemeal stuff rocked and hostage to ongoing doomsday scenarios.

Look at all these service cuts. I wonder how many person years went into planning all those X bus routes. They built ridership too. CTA ridership for bus has been stable for the first time in its history. But if we let those jerks in Springfield cut CTA service, the fall in CTA use will not be CTA's fault, and we should throw those bums in Springfield out.

Each and every non-cooperating one of them.

Peter, Chief Editor and Spelling Wrecker
The Peter Files Blog of Comedy, Satire, Jokes, Commentary (this) and Videos
Http://thepeterfiles.blogspot.com


I know that this is not my usual funny, funny, ha, ha, stuff. But sometimes, even poor tired achy disabled persons such as myself have to fight through the pain to say what they believe to be right. I am not old enough to benefit from the Free Senior riding plan. Free door-to-door paratransit riding at $16 to $18 a ride is just unfundable. So, we do what we can as a society.

But CTA is really needed.

Oh, if you can see the graphics, I'll try to add them to this post after a bed break, note that CTA's ridership fell for decades and then stabilized after some really hard internal work on serving its customers better which included much better research methods, better training, real capital investment, and a big change in CTA's corporate culture from the top down and inside out. Killing the agency after those kind of improvements sends a message to government agencies all over the state who watched it that there is no point to working hard for the citizens of the State, that it is a dummies game and that you are a fool to put in the effort. Is that the message the legislature really wants to send?

Then, I realized that Washburn's column was not the place to post this, and put a cleaned up, re-written version in the comments section of the actual story forum, where it may get lost. Here it is. We'll see if either show up.

If the State Legislators and Governor can't figure out a way to fund CTA, which is a STATE agency, maybe we start to vote them out. Every darn one of them, up and down the state, Democrat and Republican, until we can get a legislature that will work together. There's no reason that Illinois citizens should have to put up with these destabilizing petty politics year after year that continually bring things to a standstill.
State government is supposed to serve the state’s vital needs, such as roads, schools, and transit. The way our State’s legislators pick away at CTA year after year is akin to peeling away the county road structure one road at a time, or forcing IDOT to consider closing lanes of its expressways. CTA’s customer base shouldn't have to put up with the threat of losing their jobs by seeing maps like those in today’s papers, farmers should have to put up with the threat of losing the roads that help them bring their goods to market.
We have to find a way to fund all vital services because the consequences are all to real and ultimately and affect the whole State of Illinois.
The Tribune story failed to mention that CTA service cuts usually lead to ridership losses rather than rider diversions. Yes, some riders will switch because they have no other choice, but this paper has reported that a huge share of CTA riders choose to ride CTA. I expect that if the legislature fails to act on time, we will see those who can drive on local expressways, city streets, and competing for current drivers spaces in local parking lots, because there is a limit to how far people will walk, how long people will wait, and how much crowding people will tolerate before they take an alternative to transit.
Don't kid yourself, these folks are not going to be car-pooling come Monday morning, and many without insurance in sub-standard cars, and little recent experience. Let’s hope for good weather Monday.
Think it won't really affect you? 320,000 riders will need a lot of cars to get around. Frankly, I can’t even get my head around the impact. Can you? Wonder if your favorite parking garage is going to be full when you get there Monday morning. If Blagojavech and Madigan blow this one it will make Bilandic’s snowstorm look like a day at the beach; and they won’t be able to blame the Mayor for this one. CTA is a state agency, not a department of the City of Chicago.
All legislators have to do to make me happy is find a stable fix to the operations funding problem. As a homeowner, I have no problems with the mortgage transfer tax as long as it applies to commercial properties too. At least it is a stable source of income for CTA. The sales tax as a revenue source was always a bad idea, it’s revenue dried up whenever the economy tanked and CTA was always forced to raise fares whenever people were losing their jobs and homes. Unfair! This way, if the economy tanks and you lose your job, at least you won't have to deal with rising CTA fares. Besides, you're going to roll the cost of that tax into your mortgage and wind up deducting it, right?
The way transit's been funded here is something we've had to endure far too many times. Lets get the CTA operational funding taken care of for a good long time so that the CTA can do real long range planning instead of uncertain piecemeal stuff rocked and hostage to ongoing doomsday scenarios. Let’s get this off our backs. There is an incredible amount of waste built into the process as it is now.
Look at all these service cuts. I wonder how many person years went into planning all those X bus routes. They built ridership too. CTA ridership for bus has been stable for the first time in its history. But if those jerks in Springfield cut CTA service through inaction, we should throw those bums in Springfield out.
Each and every non-cooperating one of them.
Peter, Chief Editor and Spelling Wrecker
The Peter Files Blog of Comedy, Satire, Jokes, Commentary (this) and Videos
Http://thepeterfiles.blogspot.com


What do you think? Would they let this happen where you are? If you answer, please say where you are in the comment, and if you can, list the price of gas and or the price to park in your nearest urban area.

Peter, Chief Editor and Spelling Wrecker
The Peter Files Blog of Comedy, Satire and Commentary
Http://ThePeterFiles.blogspot.com


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