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CTA Says It Has Found Money To Avert Fare Hikes, Service Cuts

CTA Bus (Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

CTA Bus (Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

roberts250 Bob Roberts
Bob Roberts is a native of Wilmette who has worked in Chicago media...
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CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago Transit Authority President Forrest Claypool said Wednesday that the agency has found the $80 million it needs to avert fare hikes and service cuts the rest of this year — without labor concessions.

When passing its 2012 budget in last fall, the CTA had threatened to impose fare hikes, service cuts or both July 1 without an agreement.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Roberts reports

Having no labor agreement for six months alone saved $30 million dollars, but the CTA also shaved costs in a number of other ways: $4 million on snow removal; $10 million by first freezing, and then “slowing down,” hiring; $7 million through lower-than-anticipated injury settlements and savings in material, fuel and power purchases totaling $13.2 million. Ridership is up so much that CTA has collected $5 million in unanticipated fares.

But Claypool said it is mostly one-time savings.

“Everything in the trick bag is gone,” he said.

But that’s not how Regional Transportation Authority Finance Chair Dwight Magalis likes budgets balanced. He said the CTA should not assume it will get $17.9 million in higher-than-anticipated sales tax revenue.

“I don’t recall looking at that as part of a budget cut,” he said.

Claypool said the CTA is making progress in talks aimed at achieving $80 million in labor concessions, although he said the talks could consume the rest of this year.

The 2012 budget plan was highly contentious when the CTA board passed it last fall.

The CTA had to close a $277 million shortfall, and Claypool said the agency could only cut $117 million without going to its unions.

Claypool said in the fall arcane union work rules have been “encrusted like barnacles on the system for over three decades.”

Among other issues, Claypool singled out extra pay given to rapid transit operators at the beginning and end of their shifts, saying that it is a bonus “to show up early.”

The RTA Wednesday asked the CTA, Metra and Pace to submit proposed 2013 budgets by Sept. 28.