Chicago Transit Authority President Forrest Claypool today proposed a balanced $1.38 billion budget that maintains transit service and holds the line on customer fares, while continuing unprecedented investment in projects and programs to improve service and modernize regional transit.
The budget reflects the positive impacts of operational efficiency reforms by CTA management to reduce wasteful spending and manage day-to-day operations more efficiently. The budget also includes the 1,000 customer-facing jobs the CTA created in 2013 to better serve passengers.
The agency in 2014 will continue its ambitious $4 billion capital investment plan begun in 2011, including rehabilitating rail stations, modernizing rail and bus fleets, and bringing the agency’s massive infrastructure into a state of good repair to improve reliability and safety.
“The CTA has operated efficiently and responsibly with three straight years of balanced budgets after inheriting a $308 million deficit in 2011,” said CTA President Forrest Claypool. “We’ve done so through rigorous management reforms that have reduced waste and trimmed spending, while upholding service and fare levels for our customers and creating permanent jobs that better serve passengers. Our new collective bargaining agreement with CTA labor unions has also contributed significantly to the financial turnaround, allowing us to reduce costs while also adding good service-providing jobs for union members.”
The CTA continues its strong financial performance despite the negative effects of state budget cuts and higher unfunded state mandates for everything from health care and pension costs to free and discounted rides.
The budget reflects management reforms previously put into place, including modernizing supply chain operations to better track purchases and inventory and achieve lowest-cost pricing. It also includes progress in lowering absenteeism, which has declined in 2012 and 2013 and is estimated to save the agency $10 million a year.
The CTA is continuing its historic level of investment in its bus and rail systems under the leadership of Mayor Emanuel and follows the CTA’s successful delivery of a brand new Red Line South railroad in 2013 on time and on budget that will benefit 80,000 daily Red Line South commuters.
Next year the CTA will begin construction of a new 95th Street Terminal, a $240 million project that will expand and upgrade the 95th/Dan Ryan station, connecting Far South Side communities to job centers throughout the region and serving as a transit gateway for the South Side and suburbs.
Work will also begin on the reconstruction of the Wilson Red Line station into a modern Red-Purple transfer station, as well as on the Green Line at Cermak — all projects that benefit customers and will boost local economic development in Chicago’s neighborhoods.
Also in 2014, the CTA will continue its $71.2 million Ravenswood Connector project to upgrade track and related rail structure between the Chicago and Armitage stations on the elevated Brown and Purple Express lines.
The CTA also will continue a major plan to replacing or overhauling its bus and rail fleets to increase reliability and comfort for our customers, including taking delivery of and procuring new rail cars as well as obtaining new buses this year. These investments lower future operational costs for the agency and provide more comfortable, reliable commutes for CTA customers.
The CTA places a high priority on safety and security by leveraging technology to maximize the agency’s efforts, including the installation more than 3,600 cameras across the entire rail system, more than 5,000 cameras on rail cars and as many as 10 cameras on each of our 1,800 buses. Working closely with the Chicago Police Department’s Public Transportation Unit, cameras assisted in at least 140 arrests in 2013 and are key in our efforts to combat crime and create a more secure environment for our customers.
The agency continues its commitment to upgrading technology across its system, including a plan to upgrade wireless communications in its subway tunnels and added electronic screens displaying CTA’s Train Tracker service at every rail station in 2013. The CTA’s new fare-payment system, Ventra, will also be fully rolled out by the end of 2013, providing customers with a modern fare-payment system and reducing the agency’s operational costs of maintaining an obsolete fare-payment system.
Total ridership on the CTA is expected to grow in 2014 from this year to 534.6 million (a jump of nearly 1 percent), returning to slightly above 2011 levels.