Loan Spares CTA Fare Hike

The loan is purely a stop gap measure

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Good luck finding a bus after the service cuts.

    The Chicago Transit Authority voted on a new budget that doesn't include hefty fare increases.

    Chicaoans will be spared a $3-per-ride fare, which is nice. But a deal struck with the state doesn't save many of the agency's routes from getting the ax.

    On top of that, the ailing transportation operation will cut about 1,000 jobs to shore up shortfalls.

    CTA chairman Terry Peterson said the CTA will vote Thursday on the budget Thursday after hammering out a deal to freeze fare increases for two year.

    Under the complex deal, the Regional Transportation Authority will borrow close to $166 million from its capital budget and fork it over to the CTA. The state will repay the first two years of loan payments -- or about $15.3.

    Come the third year, the RTA will be responsible for repaying the loan at $10 million per year for 28 years.

    The loan is purely a stop gap measure; the CTA is still facing a $100 million defecit.

    "Tough times are not over, we're going to recover slowly. I'm sure positively, but we're going to recover slowly," RTA Chairman James Reilly said. "There still remains a lot of tough issues that we have to face as we go forward."

    The CTA will still have to eliminate about 150 bus routes this year. The agency said that riders should expect wait times for city buses to double or even triple -- an chilling thought considering Chicago's brutal winter winds. Nine express bus routes will also be eliminated.