Wednesday, May 2, 2007

"We Will Be Doing A Lot Of Slashing"

Ron Huberman, the new CTA President, promises that he will be doing "a lot of slashing" at the CTA. His focus will be on the managerial levels. Two questions:

1. Where do you "slash" at the CTA and how much do you save?

2. The Auditor General concluded that a major contributing factor to the CTA's financial woes was increasing service levels (and costs) over the past five years much faster than revenues were increasing. Does Huberman have the mandate to "right size" the CTA's service level to its revenue base by reducing service levels to where they were five years ago or is his talk of "slashing" just a way to extract more operating dollars from the General Assembly (or both)?

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

The answer: Jim Reiley--RTA Chairman said over a year ago that "There are no sacred cows."

jackonthebus said...

1. Start with areas that do not contribute (in an effective way) to passenger service, such as the street supervisors who showed their inability restore service intervals (maybe implementing Bustracker will help), the numerous spokeswomen, and layers of management. Fire the chronic absentees, car cleaners who do not clean cars, etc. Then reform the overtime system, as Kruesi claimed he wanted to do but was blocked by the union.
2. "The Auditor General concluded that a major contributing factor to the CTA's financial woes was increasing service levels (and costs) over the past five years much faster than revenues were increasing." What the Auditor General concluded was that expenses were rising 6% per year while revenues were rising 2%. That doesn't mean going back to service levels 5 years ago, but does mean that unless costs are constrained, the current path is not sustainable. (He made a similar observation about Metra's expenses rising 4% while revenues rise 2%). It is necessary to look at what routes are not productive, as Pace continually does (not, as the Doomsday budget suggested, cutting service to the Sunday level, regardless of productivity and passenger loss, just saying that the fare loss would be matched by subsidy loss). Also, the Auditor General said that fares needed to be increased, but all three service boards rejected that. With gas prices going to $4 a gallon, I would not. Also, as Pace is now suggesting in its South Cook Will study, maybe demand response vehicles should be used in low productivity areas. The portion of the Booz-Allen report on the need to restructure the feeders on the northwest and southwest sides (55A 55N 62H 64 69) was never addressed.

jackonthebus said...

The other thing Huberman (and his counterparts at the RTA and the other service boards) could do is develop a business plan, specifying the means and deadlines for implementing the Auditor General's various recommendations regarding such matters as various boards competing for customers in the same service areas, real estate management, and a fare payment system that encourages occasional passengers. It is not sufficient for the various boards to say that they agree with the Auditor General's recommendations (or for the RTA to say that it agrees with giving it more power, when it hasn't effectively exercised the powers it has), and for the CTA Press Office to ignore that the Auditor did make recommendations about CTA operations. For instance, with regard to the failed RTA mediation with regard to overlapping service on Harlem Ave., Huberman and T.J. Ross should convene a summit to resolve the issue. With his business school background, Huberman surely understands that a timetable and measurable steps are necessary.

Anonymous said...

An excellent Tribune editorial on the subject today.

Cheryl said...

Even better piece at the Beachwood Reporter:

http://www.beachwoodreporter.com/politics/

Quondam El Rat said...

Cheryl, I assume you mean "What Captain Ron Didn't Say," by Someone Who Cares? I don't know whether I was more inspired by the vision of what transit could be, or depressed by the reality that our political leaders (and, yes, our business leaders too), will never even attempt to do anything like that.

Anonymous said...

From John Kass in today's Tribune:

"[W]ord spread through City Hall that at the CTA, a number of politically connected vice presidents were asked to resign by the mayor's new CTA boss, Ron Huberman.

One of these, according to senior CTA and Daley administration officials, is Mark Maloney, in charge of the building trades unions throughout the transit system, a 19th Warder with much clout in Chicago and Springfield."

I guess he found some fat to cut, although a later story indicates that out of the 49 positions cut, only 18 were filled.