Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Predictions Please

One final post before focusing on departure: What are your predictions concerning (a) how SB 572 will fare and (b) the outcome of the current transit funding/governance imbroglio?

Let's refrain from snark and focus on the facts and reasonable inferences supporting your predictions.

25 comments:

sick-of-chicagotransit.blog said...

As the grand strategy has played out, cuts are inevitable. Doomsday however is only applicable to the management consultants, profiteers and vested politicions. The system will be forced to cut unprofitable routes and services, politically mandated routes and services and deal induced fluff. Thr trains and buses will run and modest fare increases will not have much impact. Ridership will decrease slightly as fewer inefficient service nets are cast in pursuit of the great performance indicator known as total ridership. The forced discipline will prove what all the latest studies and audits have been furiuosly attempting to obscure. In some, it won't be so bad and might actually result in some good.

Anonymous said...

I go with CBS2 on this one.

Anonymous said...

Also with paragraphs 8 and 9 of this Hilkevitch piece.

Anonymous said...

Does calling something for a vote doom it if it doesn't pass? I'd be interested in which NE Ill. legislators are stupid enough to stand up and vote against 572.

Anonymous said...

Someone who voted against could move to reconsider.

Anonymous said...

The RTA has been playing a game of "give me more money or I'll shoot myself" for quite some time now.

Well Jimmy, pull the trigger. Let's see what you got - a pop gun or a forty-five.

Anonymous said...

8:17:00 AM---

You mean like in Mel Brooks' Blazing Saddles?

Anonymous said...

I can think of two very good reasons to vote against SB 572:

1. reforms that aren't.

2. money ($450 million) that is too much for the stated need ($226 million)

Anonymous said...

Carole Brown mentioned SB572 for the first time on Ask Carole of Aug. 31. Also, a couple of posters there indicate that the governor's staff was totally nonresponsive.

Anonymous said...

yet even if the September cuts happen, remember that truly suicidal cuts are in store for January. I know I'm not alone in putting feelers out for jobs in other cities: if I'm going to live in an auto Armageddon, I might as well live somewhere with nicer weather.

Anonymous said...

No need to predict further. The Tribune had an AP report that SB572 only got 61 votes and needed 71.

Anonymous said...

Some speculation on what's next on Capitol Fax.

Anonymous said...

Can't wait till Cross and crew realize w/o 572 metra blows up 1/1/08 as they can't use capital funds for operating needs, then this thing will pass like a hot knife thru butter

HealthyCity said...

Here's a prediction:
Mayor Daley finally realizes that this whole SB 572 was really a power grab (more suburban Board members) and money grab ($100 mil to Metra) by the suburbs. Since the CTA bailout is essentially coming from the City's tax base (sales tax and real estate transfer tax), hizzhonor may just ask himself: why not just bailout CTA on his own and forget about the RTA all together?

Unlike the Madigans, Jones, Blagos and Crosses, the Mayor may have a better appreciation as to the real value transit has towards the viability, livibility and attractiveness of having a healthy public transport system. The others just think it's another barginining chip to toss around with Metra, highway and other capital spending. Transit to them is for congestion relief; the Mayor understands it plays a much deeper role in the fabric of his city. He may be saying to himself: why get in bed with the suburbs on this one, when they clearly have no vision?

Anonymous said...

Then instead of saying that Blago should come up with a plan, having Huberman continually say that the cuts are real, and going to Paris, the Mayor should propose that plan. Start with dedicating street furniture revenue to the CTA. If we believe healthycity, the Mayor is a hypocrite. Also, if Daley had a good understanding about how important transit is, he would not have stood behind Kruesi for as long as he did, finally realizing, probably because of prodding from Madigan, that a change was necessary.

BTW, the first sentence of Fritchey's statement
My understanding is that the Governor may announce a 'plan' as early as tomorrow to address both the mass transit issue as well as the larger issue of a capital bill. For those keeping count, this plan would be in line behind the one to 'rock the system' on campaign finance and ethics; the one to improve health care for Illinoisans, and countless others.
does not appear to have been the case, either, as Daley was reported as asking where is the Governor's plan.

Anonymous said...

healthycity -- i wish daley were that smart.

we really need to learn to a be a little more self-sufficient. the state has proven itself as unreliable and is weighted toward the suburbs. but i agree with the previous anon that daley doesn't really understand how important transit is to this city. what we need is a progressive, visionary mayor who can find ways to provide for the city without waiting on the state.

pc said...

"Modest fare increases"? The inflation-adjusted cost of driving has dropped 9.9% since 1998, while CTA rush-hour cash fares will have increased 59.6% (after next week). That hardly seems "modest" to me.

Anonymous said...

Is the 59.6% inflation adjusted? How about CTA's operating costs during that time? And what are your sources?

Anonymous said...

Also, pc, are you counting only cash peak fares, when the majority of riders have apparently moved to cards, which have not been subject to that level of fare increases? Student and disabled fares, which will not increase on September 17? Looks like you are comparing apples, oranges, and grapefruits.

pc said...

Yes, the 59.6% is also inflation adjusted; it'd be 100% otherwise ($1.50 to $3). Yes, that's "rush hour cash," as I stated. Source on driving costs is AAA, as reported by Motor Trend; CPI is from BLS.

"Reduced fare" is subject to additional regulation and subsidy under the RTA act, so it's not an adequate representation of the public's costs.

Anonymous said...

Still not a complete answer, PC. The AAA site says "Composite national average cost per-mile for 2007: 52.2 cents." This obviously does not take into account that Chicago has the highest gas prices in the U.S. (except perhaps Honolulu), cash tolls were doubled (if you can ignore CTA cards, I can ignore I-Pass), and the increase in license plate fees to fund Illinois First (passenger plates went up from about $48 to $78). I could also argue that cash bus fares have more than tripled, given that one can't purchase a bus transfer, but apparently most riders have cards for that reason. The only valid statistic on fares would be the average fare per unlinked trip, which CTA reported was about 86 cents before the 2005 fare increases and about 91 cents shortly thereafter, taking into account the effect of passes and transfers. Do you have either the current number or the projected new one after September 16?

Also, you haven't commented on CTA's operating costs compared to inflation.

pc said...

The AAA numbers are the only numbers I can find with longitudinal comparisons. Sometimes, you've got to use the numbers you've got. And really, a $30 increase in registration fees on a $20,000+ vehicle? C'mon.

The $1.50 to $2 fare increase for card holders from 1998 to 2007 is a 6.2% hike over inflation -- still, above the cost of driving, during a period of relatively stable fares (unlike the multiple fare hikes of the early 1990s).

The point of the matter is, tax revenues are declining in real dollar terms, fares are increasing, and yes, costs are increasing. (I didn't have these numbers handy, which is why I didn't post them instantaneously.)

1999-2004, according to the AG report, rail operations cost rose 15.3% after inflation; bus operations rose 27.4% after inflation. The AG notes CTA's smaller, slower trains (30% slower, 30% fewer passengers per hour) and recent pension contributions.

I also don't have recent cash vs. card vs. pass proportions on hand, either, since I'm not an insider.

Cost containment needs to be a priority, and renegotiating the labor contracts was a big part of that. However, you can't clean house when you're scrambling to make ends meet.

Anonymous said...

Your numbers at least show that the CTA crying that tax receipts have not kept up with inflation doesn't reach the crux of the problem, if rail operations cost rose 15.3% after inflation, and bus operations rose 27.4% after inflation in 1999-2004, and it is probably worse 3 years later. Since it is very unlikely that sales tax growth will outstrip economic activity (inflation and real growth), the RTA failed in its attempt to find a sustainable revenue source if it is relying on the sales tax for all costs other than the CTA pension bonds.

As far as the average fare, the 2007 CTA Budget says on page 36:
"The average fare including cross platform trips is projected at $0.93 reflecting increased system cash and transit card fares on the rail system, as well as customers migrating to passes for convenience but using them less frequently. The elimination of paper transfer abuse also contributed to the higher average fare." So, the average fare has gone up about 8% from the last time they were raised that preceded the increases in 2005. We'll have to see what the number is after the September 16 increases, but based on the trends noted above, it will be far less than what you project.

Whether the CTA could have earlier cleaned house is a matter of debate.

Edna Welthorpe said...

Average fare is a strictly so-so marker for fare increases, as they include things like free rides and ever-increasing proportions of senior fares. The better marker is the monthly/30 day pass, which is roughly the same product now as it's ever been--not accounting for decreasing service levels, of course. That fare product was around $50 back in 1987, and is $75 now--roughly a 2.5% annual increase over two decades. Not too bad.

Of course, CTA doesn't directly set fares...political realities do. Which is why CTA is taking advantage of the pending meltdown to get a fare increase in. The service cuts won't stick, but the fare increase will. You don't get many chances to raise fares, and you sure as heck don't throw back a fare increase on the rare occasion that you get one.

Anonymous said...

Hmm, I gather nothing notable has happened in the past two weeks. The "Illinois Works" bill, according to today's Southtown, "essentially would accelerate the Illinois Department of Transportation's multiyear construction plan that runs through 2013."

I found a "2008-2013 Highway Improvement Plan" at IDOT's site.

So, it seems to me that not only does this bill violate space-time (spending casino revenues now that might or might not be realized in the future, unless there are anticipated-revenue bonds written into this) and not provide any logical nexus (casinos and roads?), but that it provides nothing for transit's huge capital needs besides.

I probably should ask my Senator's office. He was apparently the lead on this shameful bill.