Service Cuts, Fare Hikes Possible, Transit Officials Warn | NBC Chicago

Service Cuts, Fare Hikes Possible, Transit Officials Warn

Gov. Bruce Rauner's proposed budget calls for nearly $170 million in cuts to mass transit

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Gov. Bruce Rauner's proposed budget calls for nearly $170 million in cuts to mass transit. NBC Chicago's Regina Waldroup reports. (Published Thursday, March 19, 2015)

    Should Gov. Bruce Rauner's proposed budget be fully realized, reductions in transit service or fare hikes -- or both -- may be implemented to help balance the books, Regional Transportation Authority officials warned Thursday.

    Rauner's proposed budget calls for nearly $170 million in cuts to mass transit. The CTA would see the most pain, losing about $130 million in state funding. Metra would lose nearly $21 million, Pace's budget would be cut by about $10 million, and Pace's Paratransit Service would lose another $8.5 million.

    The cuts are deeper than those first presented in Rauner's February budget address. Initial projections put the hit at $127 million to all three transit agencies, but transit officials say that amount was only to the state match on RTA sales tax revenues.

    "The $127 million reduction in direct transit subsidies represents less than 5 percent of the RTA's budgeted revenues," Rauner spokeswoman Catherine Kelly said via email. 

    Still, the CTA says they're not working with a "doomsday" budget proposal, and said it's too early in the process to speculate about a possible fare increase. Instead, a transit official said the agency would continue to try working with legislators to avoid a hike and cuts to service.

    "Gov. Rauner's proposed cuts threaten the CTA's four years of impressive, hard-fought gains," said CTA spokeswoman Tammy Chase. "Under Mayor [Rahm] Emanuel, the CTA wiped out a $308 million deficit without a general fare increase or service reductions. With modern management practices and a new labor agreement, the CTA has improved service while investing an unprecedented $5 billion to modernize its system."

    "Now is not the time to try and reverse those gains with short-sighted state cuts," she continued. "Transit is a job creator and a revenue creator for our regional economy, as the past four years at the CTA demonstrates."

    A Metra fare increase just kicked in last month, and will continue to rise each year for the next decade.

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