CHICAGO (CBS) — The head of the Regional Transportation Authority says more Metra service interruptions and other transit problems are a certainty if the state does not come up with a lot more money for equipment and maintenance.
RTA Chairman Kirk Dillard told reporters even the derailment of a Metra train earlier this week is an example of poor maintenance, though he calls it an Amtrak problem.
“Amtrak actually controls the area of Union Station where the derailment happened,” says Dillard. “But it’s symptomatic that you have to keep up your infrastructure.”
Dillard told the City Club of Chicago the transit system needs hundreds of millions of dollars for capital projects and upkeep.
He admits he can’t say he’s confident the state can be persuaded to provide it.
“Not only have we not passed an infrastructure spending bill in Illinois to take care of our crumbling infrastructure, the state legislature cut the mass transit budget by close to 100 million dollars,” he says. “We’re going backwards.”
Still Dillard is urging the public to press lawmakers hard before the problem gets worse.
The RTA released a statement since Dillard spoke to reporters, reading:
“The RTA would like to clarify that the Federal Railroad Administration has not yet determined the cause of Tuesday night’s partial derailment. It has not been determined to be related to a ‘state of good repair’ issue at Amtrak or Metra. The Chicago Rail Network needs more resiliency. Under CREATE, some of the Metra operations at Chicago Union Station would be moved to the LaSalle Street Station, which has some available capacity.”