RTA: Emergency Fare Hikes, Service Cuts May Be Around The Corner
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CHICAGO (CBS) – The Regional Transportation Authority is warning that the CTA, Metra and Pace may have to undertake emergency fare hikes and service cuts as soon as next month.
In a letter sent Wednesday to Gov. Pat Quinn and Illinois comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, a former RTA board member, the RTA’s top lobbyist warned that the agency has run through its $400 million in short-term borrowing authority — simply because the state has refused to pay what it is owed.
The letter said that, as of Wednesday, the state owed the RTA $398.9 million.
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Lobbyist and RTA deputy executive director Jordan Matyas reminded them that borrowing costs money. Terms of the loans put debt service ahead of subsidies to the Chicago Transit Authority, Metra and Pace.
Matyas warned that if money meant for everyday operating expenses were to be cut, so that debt service could be paid, increased fares coupled with cuts in service are likely almost immediately.
All three transit agencies also are facing higher-than-anticipated fuel prices. Metra budget planners expected diesel fuel prices to average $2.35 a gallon. It began the year at $2.62 a gallon and has remained there or higher ever since. Metra’s board has scheduled a July 15 meeting to discuss the agency’s budget, fares and service levels.