Saving the CTA

It's Doomsday, again

By Steve Rhodes
|  Wednesday, Oct 14, 2009  |  Updated 2:09 PM CDT
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So now we're being threatened with $3 CTA fares.

Why not just make it $5? Or $100? Or just get rid of the CTA altogether?

Because it's clear our public officials have very little interest in making this agency work right.

Richard M. Daley has been mayor for 20 years, and I'm guessing we've had a CTA budget crisis close to 20 times.

The current funding scheme does not work.


The CTA has failed to invest in new lines and additional cars to serve a larger customer base while constantly cutting service and raising fares in a death spiral. It's got to stop.

We're sick of it.

If federal, state, county and city governments aren't able to properly fund the CTA, let's look elsewhere.

All those rich folk who built Millennium Park? You can have your name on our trains, too.

What about our foundations? MacArthur ought to ring up its geniuses and put them together in a room until they come out with a workable idea.

The mayor could assign the new task to Chicago 2016.

Or just sell the damn thing to the parking meter people - well, not them exactly - and let someone else have a go at it.

This is beyond ridiculous.

The CTA isn't necessarily going to be a profitable venture. Not everything in society is. That's not its purpose. But some combination of long-range funding can't be impossible. We just shot a couple of spaceships into the moon, for Godsakes. Surely we can figure out how to pay for mass transit in a flat, fairly well-organized city with a simple street grid.

The latest shortfall is $300 million. The Cubs just sold for three times that - and this year they were far less entertaining than the Orange Line.

We are truly a city of idiots if we can't find a way to make this work. But do we have the will?

Steve Rhodes is the proprietor of The Beachwood Reporter, a Chicago-centric news and culture review.

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