Lake: Second CTA Budget Public Hearing Draws Small Crowd

 Dorothy Hale Photo

Darlene Hale said the mayor is "out of touch" by adding bike lanes rather
than focusing on public transportation.
(Photo/Angelica Robinson)

Lake Stop IconBy Angelica Robinson
The Red Line Project
@RedLineProject

Posted: Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012

Chicago Transit Authority riders had their last chance to weigh in on the proposed 2013 budget.  Despite the large turnout for last week's public hearing, there were significantly less people in the hearing Monday.

But the message was still the same: Reconsider the proposed fare hike.

The budget proposes fare hikes to the daily, three-day, seven-day and 30-day passes. The proposal also includes an increase in single-ride fare for seniors and the disabled. If the board approves, the increased fares will be effective Jan. 14. The CTA board is voting on the changes today.

The public hearing was held at Westinghouse College Prep Monday night. Speakers said it unfairly affects low income families.

"[Bus passes] are the lifeline to lower social economic groups in the city of the City of Chicago,” said Jose Zayas, a CTA rider. “We need to keep these groups connected to their jobs, family, and friends."

Zayas, a longtime social worker, said he often deals with the working poor who live on fixed income. Those people, he said, need CTA bus passes that are affordable. Zayas said it shouldn't be on their backs to close the budget gap.

"Increase with pass card not a balance approach in terms of solving problem," Zayas said. "[It] shouldn't be solved on the back of individuals who depend on passes."

Mayor Rahm Emanuel supports CTA's plan to increase fare. At a press conference he reminded train and bus riders who don’t agree with the increase that they have another option--driving.

"The mayor is out of touch," said Darlene Hale, a CTA rider. "The only time he's at the El station is when he is running to be the mayor or something."

Hale, who lives in South Shore Chicago neighborhood, argued that the mayor is investing the money in the wrong thing.

"Our mayor is spending millions and millions of dollars on making bike lanes,” Hale said. “He should be giving those dollars to CTA to help you fund this great transportation system we have."

The Chicago Transit Authority is dealing with a $308 million budget deficit over the last 18 months. One resident expressed concerns that the fare increase was only to close that gap. He demanded to know how riders would benefit by paying more.

“You're right, you do deserve to see something more,” CTA President Forrest Claypool. “I want you to know that [on] the busiest buses and railroads you're going to see more service."

Claypool also said that CTA riders should expect to see brand new buses that are, “nicer roomier, and cleaner.”  Riders should also to expect well-lit safe CTA stops with security cameras, he said.

Regardless, many riders are still holding out hope that the board will reconsider the proposal.

"CTA's decision will show us how democracy works to solve our problems in the city of Chicago to solve our problems collectively," Zayas said.

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