Thursday, November 1, 2007

Post-Doomsday: Will The Equity Questions Reemerge?

The Metropolitan Planning Council is alerting public-spirited folks with time on their hands next Monday to attend the following:

Transit Authority Press Event

What: A press event to highlight the impact of the cuts and fare increases

When: Monday, Nov. 5, 11 a.m.

Where: Ogilvie Station, at Jefferson and Madison streets

This press event could be a real hoot if doomsday arrives on schedule. CTA management and its customers will be reeling from their first work day post-doomsday. They will be camped outside Ogilvie Station, from which puzzled Metra commuters will emerge wondering what the fuss is all about. After all, unlike Pace and the CTA, Metra is neither cutting service nor raising fares in this first doomsday. As for the second doomsday in January, when the CTA will truly gut its bus system and Pace becomes a shadow of its former self, Metra will raise its fares all of 10 percent and increase its unlimited ride weekend ticket from $5 to--you better sit down--$7.

The juxtaposition of the CTA folks standing in the street outside a Metra station highlighting the impact of the cuts and fare increases that affect everyone but Metra and its customers is striking. Maybe, just maybe, at this press event someone in attendance will raise the question, where is the fairness in that only two of the three service boards have to go through the first doomsday? Who was responsible for the financial oversight of the region's public transit system and how did they allow doomsday to fall so unevenly on the service boards? How is it that the service board with the most prosperous ridership base was spared the first doomsday round of service cuts and fare increases while the service boards serving the most transit-dependent populations must feel the pain? And when one looks at the racial composition of the customers served by the three service boards, which racial groups are bearing the brunt of the first doomsday cuts and fare increases and which are not?

Both the Moving Beyond Congestion effort and the SB 572 process were designed to steer clear of these kinds of questions. If they fail and doomsday does descend on two of three service boards, then maybe it is time to start asking those equity/justice questions.


Anonymous said...

I am reminded of Dennis Byrne's comments about TIFs - all these subsidies to corporate interests so that people can go eat lunch together (downtown).

That rally by being scheduled after 9am, will miss some irate Metra commuters who will have to -gasp!- walk a mile to their work places in chilly weather. Even if D-days are averted, the first giveback should be the privatization of the shuttle routes serving the central area and the commuter stations. Hell, one fraction of foregone TIF money should cover that for a good long while.

Also, should so many "arterial" bus routes like the #20, #126, #3, and #22 be traversing the loop, given the burn-off of fuel traveling at less than 5mph and the constant braking which has to implode maintenance costs through the roof. Buses traveling outward from the loop should be quartered along Lower Wacker, Van Buren and Columbus drive. If there are needs to travel in bus (e.g. elderly, physically challenged) privatized shuttles should be maintened.

This might actually encourage some healthy physical activity, but as I've said to people before: "On the north side, if I'm in a window seat, the person next to me just has to scooch a little bit over to let me exit smoothly; on the south side I've been affixiated and the person has to get their big a*& up!"

Davey said...

The equity question goes much deeper than Metra vs CTA. It goes to roads vs public transportation and where Chicago/Cook residents' taxes go vs where sprawlway/downstate residents' taxes go.

I think we've reached a point where Chicago/Cook's best option would be to separate our finances from the state entirely and pay ala carte for the few services we actually need from Illinos. In the process maybe we could be finally free of the Blagojevich Madigan Jones empire as well as the exurban/downstate crybabies.

Anonymous said...

What sucks is that you would need either DuPage or Lake county to secede with Cook to be truly above water financially. I think Lake County residents would be more willing. The sprawlway vs. Chicago/Cook is too simplistic a pairing of opposites. Such rhetoric polarizes alot of people who might be on our side for more funding. A lot of the sprawlway are people otherwise willing to fund all forms of transit, but that probably left Chicago proper because they didnt have the time or resources to play the stage mom-like magnet school game on behalf of their kids. Also many of the collar counties have symphathetic sections based on whether they are compact in form, new money or old money, Chicago refugees or long time residents, blue/white collar etc.

Anonymous said...

Is this rally going to happen with the bailout announced an hour ago, and the supposed commitment to wrap the issue up in the next two weeks?

Anonymous said...

anony 12:58, What's your basis for assuming that Cook couldn't make it on its own? As a state its population would be roughly the size of Wisconsin's. I'd prefer having Lake join us, but what makes you think we couldn't make it on our own?

If you have info on total state tax revenue per county vs spending per county, please share -- that information is almost impossible to find and decipher.

Anonymous said...

The rally is still on.

Thompson Center Plaza (Clark and Randolph)
Noon, Monday 11/05

Anonymous said...

While the rally is still on - go Rick and Brian! - I highly doubt the CTA press event is still a go. I don't think I'll be able to confirm cancellation by Monday morning, so let's just assume the press conference highlighting the doomsday cuts is off... since the doomsday cuts themselves have been spared for now.

Anonymous said...

Since the premise for this has been rendered moot, maybe we should ask What about equity for the taxpayers? When can we expect efficient and corruption free government in Illinois and all of its political subdivisions (especially Cook County)? Maybe the reason Metra could hold out longer is that it takes a little better care of its money.

Anonymous said...

How did the rally go? More doomsday fatigue?