CTA’s post-pandemic puzzle
Good Wednesday morning! Illinois is the second happiest state in the country, according to a study by Schoolaroo, so it must be true.
Dorval Carter Jr., the president of the Chicago Transit Authority, is among city administrators whose jobs are on the line with a new mayor. Carter recently spoke to your Playbook host for a conversation focused only on transportation issues. The interview has been edited for clarity and length.
What is the status post-Covid with CTA ridership?
“It is continuing to grow. Before the pandemic, in 2019, we were carrying about 1.5 million people a day. When the pandemic hit and we did the initial shutdown around the city, that number dropped to about 250,000. We’re now around 900,000.”
With work patterns changing, will CTA get back to what it was?
“Here’s the thing, if I could predict that I should be playing the lottery. Everything in this industry is trying to figure out where the ceiling is on ridership. It continues to grow, but we don’t know where it’s going to max out. … It’s reflective of people working hybrid work schedules. People are riding but not necessarily to and from work like they used to, and that is feeding into a broader conversation of how we need to start re-thinking how our service operates going forward to reflect whatever those new patterns ultimately end up at and ultimately stabilize.”
Does it mean more service to neighborhoods?
“Yes. Certainly one of the things we’re looking at are the other travel patterns we need to start supporting that may not be the traditional neighborhoods into downtown Chicago.”
Will we reach 2019 levels again?
“It depends on whether businesses eventually shift away from a hybrid model to ‘everyone comes to work.’ … The more important issue for CTA and other transits around the country is how do you sustain yourself financially? And there-in lies the problem.”
Is CTA pushing for more federal money or is that a lost cause?
“The entire industry is pushing for more federal funding. There is a lot of conversation with the Biden administration about how they might go about doing that.”
How is CTA doing financially? When will it reach a fiscal cliff?
“We’re not struggling financially because we have Covid relief money to fill our deficit every month as we calculate the gap between our expenses and our revenues. We believe that we will probably run out of money around 2026. But we still have a little bit of time, and that’s one reason why we’ve started our conversations with Springfield around funding and changes to the funding system for transit in the region.”
There’s a lot of talk about crime on CTA, though Chicago Police data shows it’s down.
“When you’re in the news every day, or almost every day, for some criminal activity that happens on CTA, it creates a perception that it’s not safe. But the vast majority of customers who ride CTA every day experience a ride that is relatively drama free. … What makes you feel safe is seeing more security, seeing more police, seeing the type of activities that let you know that there are people who are watching out for you and they’re trying to keep you safe.”
Tick tock, tick tock. Lawmakers technically don’t have to sign off on the state budget until May 31, but their goal is to wrap it up Friday along with all their other legislative work.
As WTTW’s Amanda Vinicky reports, a new report from the state’s nonpartisan Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability shows the state’s main revenue account “took a dramatic turn” last month with receipts falling “a stunning $1.844 billion” compared with the previous month. That’s led to revenue expectations being reduced this year, which affects the next budget.
So far, Springfield is playing it cool. “Things are still going OK. It’s just that the performance in fiscal year ’22 was so sensational or exceptional, that it was just difficult for us to have that same result in fiscal ’23,” Eric Noggle of the forecasting commission said, via The Associated Press’ John O’Connor.
We’ll be watching for how it all plays out Friday.
If you are state Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth, the Illinois House chief budgeteer, Playbook would like to know what the sticking points are in nailing down the budget. Email [email protected].
No official public events.
At Trinity United Church of Christ at 10 a.m. to attend the funeral of Chicago Police Officer Aréanah Preston. — At Hyatt Place Chicago-Wicker Park at 5:15 p.m. for the unveiling of the Wintrust Mural, celebrating the Chicago Public Library’s 150th anniversary.
At the Southwest Suburban Cook County American Job Center at 11 a.m. to announce the launch of the Career Pathway Navigator Program to support suburban Cook County residents with disabilities to find career pathway opportunities.
Thank you for reading Illinois Playbook! Drop me a line sometime: [email protected]
— State Supreme Court weighs assault weapons ban: “The court heard oral arguments Tuesday in the case. They argued that the law is unfair because it allows certain people, but not others, to continue buying and selling a category of firearms defined as ‘assault weapons,’” by Capitol News’ Peter Hancock.
— Advocates push for bill to expand state-funded health insurance to adults 19 and over, regardless of immigration status, by Tribune’s Laura Rodríguez Presa
— Lawmakers advance bills mandating salary transparency, community college credit parity, by Capitol News’ Andrew Adams and Hannah Meisel
— Despite Uber’s campaign against tougher safety standards, ‘common carrier’ bill moves ahead in Springfield, by WTTW’s Nick Blumberg
— POT POURRI: The state of Illinois is contracting with Metrc, which tracks cannabis from seed to product. The technology assures the authenticity of cannabis products at every point in production.
— Police-reform database: Duke University’s Wilson Center for Science and Justice is tracking the introduction of policing-related legislation from across the country. Here’s the database
— The Illinois State Fair’s calendar is filling up. Aug. 16 is “Governor’s Day,” and Aug. 17 is “Republican Day” — and a concert headlined by country singer Tim McGraw.
— Rahm Emanuel welcomes Chicago tech firm: The U.S. ambassador to Japan was on hand for the opening of offices of Chicago-based Keeper Security in Tokyo. Along with Keeper’s CEO Darren Guccione, board members Howard Tullman and Harper Reed, two tech founders from Emanuel’s tenure as Chicago mayor, attended, via Crain’s John Pletz.
— Congressman Sean Casten (IL-06) is a finalist for a Democracy Award from the Congressional Management Foundation. He was selected for his attentiveness to constituent services.
— Chicago Bishop Joseph Perry to lead U.S. bishops’ anti-racism committee, via Catholic News Agency
— OPINION: Democrat Cheri Bustos and Republican Reid Ribble agree social media can be ‘toxic’ for kids, via Tribune
— Rep. Carol Ammons files for re-election in state House after initially eyeing Senate, by News-Gazette’s Jim Dey
— On visits to migrant shelters, Mayor Brandon Johnson vows to support new arrivals — and existing residents: “Johnson said efforts are underway to foster conversations where there’s been pushback to temporary shelters, like in Woodlawn and South Shore,” by Block Club’s Madison Savedra.
— No honeymoon for Johnson — at least not with Fulton Market Association: “Restaurant owners, business and community leaders [are] demanding 5,000 more surveillance cameras to stop violent crime,” by Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman.
— CME Group CEO Duffy says exchange is prepared to leave Chicago ‘if we had to,’ via Bloomberg
— Now open, the St. Regis Chicago hotel gets new owners: “The 192-room hotel, which is quoting room rates at around $1,000 a night, is part of architect Jeanne Gang’s 101-story tower in Lakeshore East,” by Sun-Times’ David Roeder.
— Chicago’s rental market is stabilizing but seeing some of the fastest price increases in the U.S., by Tribune’s Lizzie Kane
— Chicago considers installing public restrooms with revenue from company that manages bus stops, by Damita Menezes for Medill Reports
— Smelling the roses: Former Mayor Lori Lightfoot sent flowers to newly inaugurated Mayor Brandon Johnson and his chief of staff, Rich Guidice, wishing them well as they start a new administration.
— Missing South Elgin girl has reunited with her father: “A South Elgin girl who was found Saturday after being taken by her mother six years ago has been reunited with her family in Illinois, according to South Elgin police,” by Daily Herald’s Susan Sarkauskas.
— OPINION: Suburbs are aspiring to out-Chicago the city, by John Joe Schlichtman for the Sun-Times
We asked if you could enact an executive order, what would it be.
Lucas Hawley: “Have all county and city workers return to the office.”
Marilynn Miller: “A mandate that all women are paid equal to men.”
John Straus: “A four-day work week with flextime.”
Stephen Yoshida: “Abolish the practice of executive orders in favor of more structurally open and collaborative forms of governance.”
Do you stay on camera or off for Zoom meetings? Email [email protected]
— Congressman Brad Schneider focuses on gun violence, debt ceiling during town hall; ‘We need to change the culture,’ by Lake County News-Sun’s Steve Sadin
— Dems split on whether parents must know their child is having an abortion, by POLITICO’s Megan Messerly and Alice Miranda Ollstein
— Senators dismiss happy talk after Biden-McCarthy debt sitdown, by POLITICO’s Burgess Everett and Sarah Ferris
— Trump-endorsed Daniel Cameron wins Republican nomination for Kentucky governor, by POLITICO’s Zach Montellaro
— Saturday: Congressman Bill Foster (IL-11) will host a town hall Saturday in Belvidere “where he will share what life is like as a scientist in Congress.” We expect it’s lonely. More details here
— June 6: Illinois House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch, Attorney Gen. Kwame Raoul, Department of Human Services Secretary Grace Hou and Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly will be honored at the TASC (Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities) breakfast. Details here
— June 7: Supreme Court Justice Joy Cunningham, who’s up for election in 2024, headlines a Zoom meet-and-greet with Cecile Richards, the former president of Planned Parenthood. This is a get-to-know you, not a fundraiser. Register here
TUESDAY’s ANSWER: Congrats to Ted McClelland for answering that Jackie Robinson played basketball for UCLA when the Bruins lost 37 to 21 against Illinois State University in Normal on Dec. 21, 1940.
TODAY’s QUESTION: Where is Norma Jean the elephant buried? Email [email protected]
Democratic Municipal Officials Executive Director Barbara Moore, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa Foundation for Fair Contracting Political Director Jeremy Custer, Illinois Sentencing Policy Advisory Council’s Michael Elliott, Microsoft senior writer Rebecca Nelson Kay and journalist Robert Feder. And a h/t to current state Rep. Wayne Rosenthal, who celebrated Tuesday.
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May 17, 2023 at 07:46AM