I wanted to share with you a resolution I introduced in today’s City Council meeting calling for hearings on the growing number of derailments, mechanical breakdowns and service interruptions besetting the CTA. I will be discussing my resolution and the CTA service crisis on Friday , 9:10 a.m., on WBEZ, 91.5 FM.
My resolution asks the CTA’s top brass, including President Frank Kruesi and Board Chairman Carole Brown, to appear before the City Council “to outline the CTA’s plan to address and resolve the ongoing transit service crisis.” It also asks the CTA to give Council members “an outline of the parts of the system that are in greatest need of repair and a specific budget and timetable for eliminating all ‘slow zones’ and bringing the entire track system into a good state of repair.”
The CTA is fast becoming a third-world transit system. In the last six months, CTA riders from the 49th Ward and across the city have experienced a precipitous decline in the quality, safety and reliability of both train and bus service on the CTA. Derailments and mechanical breakdowns are becoming the norm for most CTA riders. And the impending track closures to accommodate the widening of the Belmont and Fullerton “L” platforms will only exacerbate an already intolerable situation.
49th Ward residents are extremely reliant on the CTA, and riders have been calling my office complaining about service delays and mechanical breakdowns. Many people complain that the service has become so unreliable they have to wake up an hour earlier just to make sure they arrive for work on time.
Press reports late last year indicated that CTA trains experienced significant increases in the number of “slow zones” on almost every train line in recent months, with 35% of the Red Line route falling within a slow zone.
These ongoing service delays routinely inconvenience thousands of Chicago transit passengers and cost our local economy millions of dollars in lost wages and productivity. While federal and state budget cutbacks have clearly hurt the CTA, misplaced budget priorities and gross managerial incompetence are the primary factors leading to the decline in service.The 49th Ward and other neighborhoods endure crumbling “L” stations reeking of urine and trains slowing to a crawl, while the CTA spends over $385 million in financing costs alone for the Super Station and other mega projects.
Something must change. I hope the City Council hearings will help to spur the CTA and the Mayor to take some action before things get even worse.
I will let you know when the hearings are scheduled. A copy of the resolution and my press release are provided here for your information.