CHICAGO (CBS) — When Regional Transportation Authority Chairman John Gates wrote last week urging the Chicago Transit Authority, Metra and Pace to work more closely together, he wasn’t anticipating the collaboration that resulted.
CTA President Forrest Claypool, Metra Chief Executive Officer Alex Clifford and Pace Executive Director T.J. Ross fired back Wednesday with a highly critical letter that accused Gates of ignoring collaboration and joint cost-cutting on several fronts, while building layers of duplicative bureaucracy at the RTA.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Roberts reports
A copy of the joint letter, obtained by WBBM Newsradio, said they “could not agree more” with Gates’ assertion that the agencies need to eliminate redundancies and enhance efficiencies.
But they wrote that Gates was mistaken when he asserted that “dozens of meetings have failed to result in the implementation of any interagency initiatives to save taxpayer dollars.
For instance, the letter cites a CTA-Pace agreement to eliminate duplicative bus routes and a CTA-Metra agreement to finalize a joint purchasing agreement for supplies common to the two agencies.
The letter said that the different types of vehicles the agencies use, and different fuels they burn, make joint maintenance and procurement “quite difficult.”
The letter accuses the RTA of enacting policies that increase construction cost, and duplicate both federal oversight and metropolitan planning. It says RTA has engaged in “mission creep” by trying to design interagency signage and says its Transit-Oriented Development program has spent millions with little new ridership evident.
At the same time, the letter states, the agencies have “constrained their payrolls, cut service and/or raised fares” while the RTA head count has grown by a third and its budget is now twice that allowed under state law.
The RTA, by law, has financial oversight of the CTA, Metra and Pace.