Transit groups slam Lightfoot CTA funding cut

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At issue is $16 million in taxes first imposed by former Mayor Rahm Emanuel and given to the CTA. Lightfoot has imposed an additional "congestion fee" on services such as Uber and Lyft but had allocated almost all of that to the city budget proper.

An online petition being circulated by the Active Transportation Alliance with the backing of other groups, including the Center for Neighborhood Technology and the Metropolitan Planning Council, calls on Lightfoot to back off her plan.

“With fare and tax revenue plummeting during the COVID-19 pandemic, CTA’s budget is already in crisis,” the petition says, referencing fears of CTA officials of potential huge budget cuts if more COVID relief money does not come from Washington. “If approved, this cut increases the potential for cuts to bus and train service, fare hikes, and layoffs early next year when the agency may run out of federal stimulus funds.”

A city spokeswoman replied that CTA has used the money strictly for capital projects and that the agency intends to proceed in 2021 with its normal capital program bonds. But the spokeswoman conceded that the bonds now will have to be retired with other CTA revenues.

Alliance spokesman Kyle Whitehead said that will only further stress the pressure on CTA finances, potentially making the agency choose between cutting service or needed capital programs, such as installing more bus-only lanes to speed traffic.

“Transit agencies are in fiscal crisis now,” Whitehead said. “It’s going to be a challenge for them to maintain service going forward.”

Whitehead said the petition, which now has been signed by about 350 people, has not yet received a response from the Lightfoot administration. He said his group has begun talking with aldermen to see what, if anything, can be done.

via Crain’s Chicago Business

November 23, 2020 at 09:17PM

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