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I admit with the current political environment it's not be easy, but something needs to be done. There's got to be some way of cutting through this us against them garbage that seems to be so prevalent these days in local politics. A start would have to be finding a way of getting across to people that everybody benefits from a decent transit system in the region, not city over the suburbs or vice versa but everybody. Somehow key figures from across the region need to be brought together to hammer out a way to make governance over transit a bit more equal. ....
I moved this here, because I thought that the Pace vs. CTA South restructuring actually had something about the CTA South Restructuring. Now that Pace has shown its hand, I wonder if CTA will still go with its previous premise (down to 159th).

With regard to this topic, I previously stated that I was in favor of something along the NY MTA model.

Nonetheless, as jajuan brings up the political side, I add my opinion that the real problem is that all 4 agencies are essentially political bodies that do not exercise any oversight. The last thing I heard of any peep by any board against the staff was when two of former governors' appointees to the CTA Board held up the articulated hybrid bus lease for 2 months, because it didn't make sense to buy new buses when 700 buses were going to be taken off the street pending the 2008 doomsday. Then governor Bleeping Golden took one of them off to substitute a board member (one of his former spokespersons) with the agenda of blocking the fare hike, which she didn't. Meanwhile, Mayor Daley, not the CTA Board, appoints the Executive Director.

The RTA has proven itself to be totally ineffective, and I doubt that ex-Mayors on the Pace Board really know transit (it seems, from the minutes, like their main task is to schmooze with other mayors who want transit, and maybe will chip in). Again, the only dissent noted is whether the economy will come back enough that a UPS route could be reinstated after UPS pulled the subsidy on it.

My impression is that the Metra board can run a railroad, but I am sure that trainman can set me straight on that. :o

You may note a year ago I mentioned that the RTA Act reforms were no reforms, but we got the tax increase. It seems like our legislature is now engaged in similar games with reforming state government, i.e. reports of a recall amendment that would take a certain number of legislators to authorize a recall petition. You may say that the last sentence is off point, but the type of dilution of reform is similar to Section 2.12b of the RTA Act being changed from "the Executive Director of the Authority may intervene" in an earlier draft to "the Executive Director of the Authority may, upon the affirmative vote of 9 of the then Directors of the Authority, intervene," thus assuring that it never happens.

Illinois politics are so rife with such examples, many of them in the transit area, that I really have no hope of effective governance. The best we can expect is that these boards can spend grant money, if it is available. They also try to enlist us to get them their "funding," although maybe CTA learned its lesson when most of the "off the top" money in the 2008 bill went to Pace (Paratransit, Suburban Mobility, and South Cook funds). artthouwill: This may indicate that, in fact, the balance in the legislature has swung from the city to the suburbs.

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I moved this here, because I thought that the Pace vs. CTA South restructuring actually had something about the CTA South Restructuring. Now that Pace has shown its hand, I wonder if CTA will still go with its previous premise (down to 159th).

With regard to this topic, I previously stated that I was in favor of something along the NY MTA model.

Nonetheless, as jajuan brings up the political side, I add my opinion that the real problem is that all 4 agencies are essentially political bodies that do not exercise any oversight. The last thing I heard of any peep by any board against the staff was when two of former governors' appointees to the CTA Board held up the articulated hybrid bus lease for 2 months, because it didn't make sense to buy new buses when 700 buses were going to be taken off the street pending the 2008 doomsday. Then governor Bleeping Golden took one of them off to substitute a board member (one of his former spokespersons) with the agenda of blocking the fare hike, which she didn't. Meanwhile, Mayor Daley, not the CTA Board, appoints the Executive Director.

The RTA has proven itself to be totally ineffective, and I doubt that ex-Mayors on the Pace Board really know transit (it seems, from the minutes, like their main task is to schmooze with other mayors who want transit, and maybe will chip in). Again, the only dissent noted is whether the economy will come back enough that a UPS route could be reinstated after UPS pulled the subsidy on it.

My impression is that the Metra board can run a railroad, but I am sure that trainman can set me straight on that. :o

You may note a year ago I mentioned that the RTA Act reforms were no reforms, but we got the tax increase. It seems like our legislature is now engaged in similar games with reforming state government, i.e. reports of a recall amendment that would take a certain number of legislators to authorize a recall petition. You may say that the last sentence is off point, but the type of dilution of reform is similar to Section 2.12b of the RTA Act being changed from "the Executive Director of the Authority may intervene" in an earlier draft to "the Executive Director of the Authority may, upon the affirmative vote of 9 of the then Directors of the Authority, intervene," thus assuring that it never happens.

Illinois politics are so rife with such examples, many of them in the transit area, that I really have no hope of effective governance. The best we can expect is that these boards can spend grant money, if it is available. They also try to enlist us to get them their "funding," although maybe CTA learned its lesson when most of the "off the top" money in the 2008 bill went to Pace (Paratransit, Suburban Mobility, and South Cook funds). artthouwill: This may indicate that, in fact, the balance in the legislature has swung from the city to the suburbs.

Agreed. Ive always favored a model like the MTA or even New Jersey Transit.

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A Tribune column today somewhat on the same topic. At first my reaction was going to be "in further news today, the sky is blue..." but this gets on another point that I hadn't thought about--essentially that the RTA was to oversee capital funding, but since it doesn't have the mechanisms in place a year later, the legislature decided to earmark the funds directly to the 3 service boards.

The supermajority prerequisites were also mentioned. Not mentioned was the Julie Hamos may have inadvertently sponsored this train wreck.

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A Tribune column today somewhat on the same topic. At first my reaction was going to be "in further news today, the sky is blue..." but this gets on another point that I hadn't thought about--essentially that the RTA was to oversee capital funding, but since it doesn't have the mechanisms in place a year later, the legislature decided to earmark the funds directly to the 3 service boards.

The supermajority prerequisites were also mentioned. Not mentioned was the Julie Hamos may have inadvertently sponsored this train wreck.

The article does note one problem that most of us have agreed is a big part of the mess, public transit in the region being operated by four separate service boards. And speaking of Hamos, the article also points out that Hamos may have weakened her position as an advocate of the RTA by hinting at a run for Attorney General, of course bringing about the ire of Speaker Madigan, who wants to get rid of the RTA.

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The article does note one problem that most of us have agreed is a big part of the mess, public transit in the region being operated by four separate service boards.

There is nothing wrong with the area being run under the separate service boards.

The problem is that (1) politicians should not be in control of these service boards,

and (2) the weakness of the boards is because they are political, they do not govern

their boards in the best interests of the service they represent, and they are puppets for

special interests who speak for the minority instead of the majority or simply good operating

sense.

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There is nothing wrong with the area being run under the separate service boards.

The problem is that (1) politicians should not be in control of these service boards ...

I don't think there is disagreement here, just a matter of semantics. I thought you previously agreed with my proposal that there could be operating subsidiaries for city transit, suburban bus, commuter rail and paratransit, just that each would not have a political board overseeing it. To the extent that public input is required on policy matters, one board would be sufficient (although, like in 1983, this RTA board should be dismissed).
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I don't think there is disagreement here, just a matter of semantics. I thought you previously agreed with my proposal that there could be operating subsidiaries for city transit, suburban bus, commuter rail and paratransit, just that each would not have a political board overseeing it. To the extent that public input is required on policy matters, one board would be sufficient (although, like in 1983, this RTA board should be dismissed).

Yes, we are on the same page. But I also believe that the public input should be

advisory and not automatic. I still feel that someone with knowledge should stand

up for what they believe to be in the best interests of the agency when it comes to

operations, procedures, use of ADA equipment, etc., and not cater to and/or give in

to every interest group's wishes and demands.

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Agreed. Ive always favored a model like the MTA or even New Jersey Transit.

In your dreams.

I looked up both NJT and MTA. NJT covers a lot of New Jersey and is a STATE agency. It also contracts out a lot of its services to private bus companies (something we can't seem to get CTA to do due to fierce union opposition). MTA is also a STATE agency with largely NYC area responsibility. Here is a foreign concept to the Chicagoland area. REGIONAL cooperation.

The Port Authority of New York is a bi-state governmental body (New York AND New Jersey) which operates Penn ST, Grand Central ST, Holland, Lincoln Tunnels, George Washington Toll Bridge, Kennedy Airport, LaGuardia Airport, and Newark Airport. Note that most of these properties are in New York City, yet the state of New Jersey has a say in all of these operations.

How do you construct a regional board here with suburbanites who hate Chicago and vice versa. The only thing they might be united in is a disdain for the state of Indiana, who should also be a player in any type of Regional transit board under the model you propose.

Gary Airport should be Chicagoland's third airport, not Peotone.

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In your dreams....
Not to restate the whole post, but of course, what art says is true, at least on a practical level. Also, I believe that there are certain parties who do not want to give up the patronage or control, were a truly regional authority to be organized.

There are the reports about Mike Madigan wanting to abolish the RTA, but I wonder about the particulars he has in mind of doing that (and also if this is one of the few cases where he claims he can't make the other legislators go along).

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In your dreams.

I looked up both NJT and MTA. NJT covers a lot of New Jersey and is a STATE agency. It also contracts out a lot of its services to private bus companies (something we can't seem to get CTA to do due to fierce union opposition). MTA is also a STATE agency with largely NYC area responsibility. Here is a foreign concept to the Chicagoland area. REGIONAL cooperation.

The Port Authority of New York is a bi-state governmental body (New York AND New Jersey) which operates Penn ST, Grand Central ST, Holland, Lincoln Tunnels, George Washington Toll Bridge, Kennedy Airport, LaGuardia Airport, and Newark Airport. Note that most of these properties are in New York City, yet the state of New Jersey has a say in all of these operations.

How do you construct a regional board here with suburbanites who hate Chicago and vice versa. The only thing they might be united in is a disdain for the state of Indiana, who should also be a player in any type of Regional transit board under the model you propose.

Gary Airport should be Chicagoland's third airport, not Peotone.

1. The "Port Authority of New York and New Jersey" does not operate Penn Station, Amtrak owns and operates it.

2. The MTA owns and operates Grand Central Station.

3. PA of NY & NJ also operates PATH Rail.

4. There is equal representation on the NY and NJ side as each governor appoints 6 members to the board.

Though I've always said that a model similar to the MTA or NJT would be nice, it will never happen in this region as too many politicians are focused on "What's in it for me?" instead of a COORDINATED effort on what's good for the region. This current model and how its carried out has done nothing but screw taxpayers, and more importantly the broader Chicagoland regional economy.

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  • 3 years later...

In a bit of confidential information, the Tribune reports that essentially the person who came up with the idea for the RTA says "the nearly 40-year-old agency is broken and should be merged with another" and "the relationship between the RTA and its subordinates — the CTA, Metra and Pace — is dysfunctional and ripe for a change." Of course, the political hack who runs the RTA essentially dismissed the proposal to merge it with CMAP.

But finally Gates did get to the point I have made since at the top of this thread:

The RTA's Gates said the agency is exercising proper oversight, but acknowledged that integrating the three service boards into a regional system remains a challenge."In the DNA of all the service boards, there is a certain amount of mistrust of the others," he said. "This is something we have to overcome."

At RTA board meetings, directors representing the city and suburbs often split into factions favoring the CTA, Metra or Pace.

But then he backtracks:

"That's a very good thing," Gates said. "If everybody sat there and sang 'Kumbaya' all the time, they'd probably be wasting a lot of assets and a lot of time. Now there's a very healthy competition for the scarce resources."

We don't need competition for scarce resources--we need a transit system that works efficiently.

Personally, I don't care for the Ranney proposal, because CMAP only acts as though it is a federally required agency, and planning of any type in this part of Illinois is an oxymoron. However, I know one poster here who might be in favor, since he got no traction from a CATS (predecessor to CMAP) award of about 12 years ago

Finally, the article implies that both agencies are a job source for Madigan's relatives, which is the real bottom line in this state,

Update: I see that prior posts in this thread indicated that Madigan was in favor of abolishing the RTA. Maybe his relatives got what they wanted.

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In a bit of confidential information, the Tribune reports that essentially the person who came up with the idea for the RTA says "the nearly 40-year-old agency is broken and should be merged with another" and "the relationship between the RTA and its subordinates — the CTA, Metra and Pace — is dysfunctional and ripe for a change." Of course, the political hack who runs the RTA essentially dismissed the proposal to merge it with CMAP.

But finally Gates did get to the point I have made since at the top of this thread:

The RTA's Gates said the agency is exercising proper oversight, but acknowledged that integrating the three service boards into a regional system remains a challenge."In the DNA of all the service boards, there is a certain amount of mistrust of the others," he said. "This is something we have to overcome."

At RTA board meetings, directors representing the city and suburbs often split into factions favoring the CTA, Metra or Pace.

But then he backtracks:

"That's a very good thing," Gates said. "If everybody sat there and sang 'Kumbaya' all the time, they'd probably be wasting a lot of assets and a lot of time. Now there's a very healthy competition for the scarce resources."

We don't need competition for scarce resources--we need a transit system that works efficiently.

Personally, I don't care for the Ranney proposal, because CMAP only acts as though it is a federally required agency, and planning of any type in this part of Illinois is an oxymoron. However, I know one poster here who might be in favor, since he got no traction from a CATS (predecessor to CMAP) award of about 12 years ago

Finally, the article implies that both agencies are a job source for Madigan's relatives, which is the real bottom line in this state,

Update: I see that prior posts in this thread indicated that Madigan was in favor of abolishing the RTA. Maybe his relatives got what they wanted.

I'll make my response here rather than the other thread started by Mike Payne on this since theis seems to be the proper place to respond. My issue with the proposal is besides the issue you brought up in merging RTA with CMAP, it doesn't really go far enough in addressing the real problem with transit in the region which is we have three separate transit boards outside of RTA which are filled with political hacks with no transit expertise or experience and connected with politicians from the City, suburbs and the state and which show no real incentive to work together and as stated by Gates himself has no amount of trust with each other. Under this proposals they would still be left to exist intact. Unless that issue is addressed then we'll continue to see unnecessary money spent on transit boards that only serve to form an overconvoluted mess rather than a truly great transit system that transit in our area has the potential to be without the four political messes that we currently call RTA, CTA, Pace and Metra.

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Obviously we are in agreement.

Maybe the problem is that the whole RTA system started with the wrong premise, as indicated by the tribute to Florence Boone in the Pace minutes of May, 2012:

Director Welton commented that Mrs. Boone was a pioneer for suburban public transportation beginning in the early 1980's. At that time mass transit in the region was bankrupt. Those in power considered placing suburban transportation under either Metra or the CTA. Through the Council of Mayors, Mrs. Boone was a leader in appealing for equity for a suburban Cook/collar county transportation system. Had the suburbs been placed under the CTA or Metra, Director Welton believes the suburbs would never have seen the type of transportation system it currently has through Pace.

I might have adhered to that view at one time, and it appears that Pace may be the only competently run system. However, that doesn't solve the current problem, and various comments in Pace minutes, such as those in the June 2012 minutes that "Chairman Kwasneski said that although the RTA believes the service boards do not cooperate, this is a great example of how Pace and the CTA have been cooperating for almost a year," indicates that Pace doesn't get the point either, in that it didn't have any choice given the legislative mandate for an open fare system and 40% of Pace rides are transfers to or from CTA.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Another fine example indicated by this link on the home page. Either reinforces my position that the law means nothing as far as transit is concerned, or maybe Rahm is taking others' advice and deciding to shut down the RTA himself.

Anyway, the statute requiring a supermajority again assures that nothing gets done, although this eventually will have to be.

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I don't see the point with the RTA.I don't see 1 major project done.

Star line still not build.There are still suburbs without Pace.CTA has a list of projects.

How much of a dent is 2.5 billion going to make.When there is a 30 billion list.

Plus,they don't have the power to tax.

Too be fair the state needs to give everyone there money own.

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Plus,they don't have the power to tax.

On this point you are incorrect. RTA is the only agency that has the power to impose the sales tax. Sec. 4.03 of the RTA Act. However, I guess they had no trouble violating Sec. 4.01.

I don't see the point with the RTA.I don't see 1 major project done.

Star line still not build.There are still suburbs without Pace.CTA has a list of projects.

How much of a dent is 2.5 billion going to make.When there is a 30 billion list.

Now you are onto something.

  • If RTA does any project, it is rare. They say they do coordinate a few projects, such as Pace signs at Metra stations, but major construction is overseen by the 3 agencies, and then in Chicago you have CDOT involved, regardless of whether it is (subway or streets) or is not (L) city property.
  • $2.5 billion isn't that much of a dent. But the real question is that it is just piling up layers of debt, in that Pace was just authorized to sell $100 million in bonds, and CTA is in hock all over the place, including sales tax bonds to be paid back with RTA money.
  • As all the tributes to Flo Boone at Pace point out, the current construct is merely political.

Too be fair the state needs to give everyone there money own.

With regard to construction, both the state* and feds appropriate construction grants directly to the three agencies, not the RTA. Supposedly, in the state's case, because the legislature doesn't trust the RTA.

The rest of this is merely about the funding formula, which was pretty set in 2008. They are arguing over discretionary funds, but Pace also has its "off the top" items (such as paratransit and South Suburban job access) before we even get to this.

I'm not taking any position on the $6 million per se, but that the process is totally broken.

___________

*Big pdf. Cited as illustrative, not necessarily because it is still in effect.

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According to Greg Hinz This is what the Bond Money will be use for

The bonds could provide $300 million in new bridges for Metra, $128 million for new Metra commuter cars, $291 million to rebuild aging CTA tracks, $100 million to replace up to six CTA train stations, and millions more in new bus and station work in DuPage County, Deerfield and Joliet.

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According to Greg Hinz This is what the Bond Money will be use for

The bonds could provide $300 million in new bridges for Metra, $128 million for new Metra commuter cars, $291 million to rebuild aging CTA tracks, $100 million to replace up to six CTA train stations, and millions more in new bus and station work in DuPage County, Deerfield and Joliet.

The Crain's you cited also noted that the RTA intends to pay the bonds with "increased sales tax revenues," and there is also a squabble over about $17 million in current sales tax revenues over budget.

While the article said that both CTA and Metra were supportive, there is still the question of what is going to pay off the CTA "sales tax bonds."

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  • 2 weeks later...

What would happen if the RTA is abolish?Who would have the power to level a sale tax?

It would free up some money with salaries and staff cost.

Anything would take new state legislation, but with the current mess in the state legislature, no one knows what they would come up with.

The only thing that is analogous is what happened in 1983.

The original RTA was organized in 1974, but essentially only contracted with CTA and private carriers in the beginning. It had to take over operation of the Milwaukee Road and Rock Island commuter lines when those railroads went bankrupt. Somehow, everything fell apart around 1979 (I wasn't around then), with CTA about doubling fares and most of the suburban bus companies not providing service because the RTA was not paying them. In 1983, the legislature came up with the current structure, with all the existing RTA directors dismissed, and the formation of the Commuter Rail (Metra) and Suburban Bus (Pace) service boards.

To get back to my point about the state legislature making a mess, I go back to the discussion in 2007, where they claimed that they gave the RTA such powers as to resolve service overlap, but put so many conditions on them (such as that 9 votes were needed to start an investigation), that it turned out to be a farce, as indicated by how the most recent cuts were implemented (not through that structure).

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