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Exclusive: Alderman calls for council hearings on CTA system failures, slow zones

Alderman Joe Moore (49th Ward) today is calling for City Council hearings on the general CTA nonsense we all experience every day in our commutes to work, school and play.

In a resolution released first to the CTA Tattler, Alderman Moore notes that "in spite of . . . rampant and unabated system failures, and the pervasive disrepair of many neighborhood "L" stations, CTA management is pursuing large-scale borrowing to undertake the Block 37 Super Station project, and is proposing "mega projects" such as construction of the "Circle Line."

Moore's resolution calling CTA President Frank Kruesi on the proverbial Council carpet further notes that "construction of the Super Station project and pursuit of the Circle Line Project in the face of the rampant failures in day-to-day operations call into serious question the CTA’s spending priorities."

The resolutions asks Kruesi "to outline the CTA’s plan to address and resolve the ongoing transit service crisis," and to give Council members "an outline of the parts of the system that are in greatest need of repair and a specific budget and timetable for eliminating all "slow zones" and bringing the entire track system into a good state of repair."

That's a great start. There's a mayoral election on Feb. 27. While I don't expect this one issue to derail the "Daley Express," I do hope we can at least get the mayor's attention to these problems that he's virtually ignored for many years.

UPDATE: Here is the Sun-Times story on this.

Click on continuation below for full text of the resolution.

RESOLUTION CALLING FOR HEARINGS ON THE INCREASING NUMBER OF MECHANICAL FAILURES AND SERVICE DELAYS ON CTA TRAINS AND BUSSES

WHEREAS, A safe, reliable and efficient public transportation system is the lifeblood of Chicago’s economy; and

WHEREAS, Hundreds of thousands of Chicagoans depend upon the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) to get to work, shop, attend school, visit the doctor, socialize with friends and family, and attend to the other day-to-day necessities of life in our city; and

WHEREAS, In the past year, CTA passengers have experienced a precipitous decline in the quality, safety and reliability of both train and bus service, with derailments and mechanical breakdowns becoming the norm for most CTA riders; and

WHEREAS, CTA trains have experienced significant increases in the number of “slow zones” on almost every train line in recent months, with 35% of the Red Line route and over 25% of the Blue and Purple Line routes falling within a slow zone; and

WHEREAS, Chicago’s daily newspapers alone have recorded no fewer than 15 major system breakdowns since April, 2006, some of which caused serious injuries to CTA passengers, and these reported incidents are increasing in frequency and only scratch the surface of the number of service delays and interruptions that take place on a daily basis; and

WHEREAS, The impending track closures to accommodate the widening of the Belmont and Fullerton “L” platforms on the Red and Brown Lines will only further exacerbate an already intolerable situation; and

WHEREAS, The train derailments, power outages and mechanical failures routinely inconvenience thousands of Chicago transit passengers and cost the City’s economy untold millions of dollars in lost wages and productivity; and

WHEREAS, Many neighborhood “L” Stations are in severe disrepair with leaky roofs and stairways reeking of urine; and

WHEREAS, In spite of such rampant and unabated system failures, and the pervasive disrepair of many neighborhood “L” stations, CTA management is pursuing large-scale borrowing to undertake the Block 37 Super Station project, and is proposing “mega projects” such as construction of the “Circle Line;” and

WHEREAS, The CTA plans to spend in the next five years over $385 million in financing costs alone for the Super Station and other unspecified capital projects, while spending only $62 million in that same five years for track repairs, structure defects, and other infrastructure safety and renewal programs; and
   
WHEREAS, The CTA has assumed the aura of a third world transit system, bringing shame upon our great City; and

WHEREAS, Federal funding cutbacks and the State’s unfair funding formula contribute to the current service crisis, but gross managerial incompetence plays an even greater role; and

WHEREAS, Construction of  the Super Station project and pursuit of the Circle Line Project in the face of the rampant failures in day-to-day operations call into serious question the CTA’s spending priorities; now therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED, That CTA President Frank Kruesi, CTA Board Chairman Carole Brown, and other appropriate CTA management officials appear before the City Council Committee on Transportation to outline the CTA’s plan to address and resolve the ongoing transit service crisis; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That CTA officials provide the members of the City Council with an outline of the parts of the system that are in greatest need of repair and a specific budget and timetable for eliminating all “slow zones” and bringing the entire track system into a good state of repair; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That CTA officials provide the members of the City Council with detailed information on each of the CTA’s capital improvement projects, including individualized detailed project descriptions, specific funding sources, start and end dates for each project, and the total project cost for each project, including amount spent to date and amount unfunded.

JOSEPH A. MOORE
Alderman, 49th Ward

RICARDO MUNOZ
Alderman, 22nd Ward

Comments

This totally makes up for the goose liver bill. I'm officially done hiding my Rogers Park heritage. Go Joe!

Huh, who, what? This is Joe Moore, from the 49th right? The foie gras guy? Not some other Joe Moore? Taking action on a REAL issue? What the...

I mean, the issues he brings up have been hashed around on various online forums. Some have even been satisfactorily answered generally in the CTA's favor. Still, I give him credit for finally shedding some light on an issue that actually has relevance for a large portion of the population. Even if the CTA can in fact defend it's actions and strategies, I think it's long past time that these matters received a public audit by city officials. Especially the crumbling present infrastructure and the circle line, which even if the agency were rolling in loot, is indefensible when there are so many other potential projects that are more worthy.

It seems like you're saying that Joe Moore did something out of character by proposing a bill that affects the little guy. Only, Joe did it six weeks before his own troubled reelection bid. So that makes it in character after all.

Would you like 'L' delays and cram?
Not during rush hour, Frankie man.

I do not like them on the 'L'.
I do not like them very well.

I don't like them in Rogers Park.
I don't like them at Div and Clark.

To wait a half hour for the train,
In snow, or sleet, or wind, or rain,

To pack aboard a sardined car,
That limps me to my job afar,

While planning skills seem to be lacking,
Half your riders you send packing,

On Red, on Brown, on Purple, too,
I would not like that, Frank. Would you?

I would not like that here or there.
I would not like that anywhere.

I don't like 'L' delays and cram.
I do not like them, Frank, you scam.

Now save us, please, oh Alderman.

All nice and good, but the City Council doesn't have any oversight over the CTA (they don't appoint board members or the President), nor do they even provide CTA funding in any meaningful way.

I guess those internal numbers are pretty bad if Joe Moore is looking around for an issue to tout. Whassamatter, Joe? Can't keep running for re-election on The Gale Street Fieldhouse, a project that you've been promising for 10 years and still hasn't seen the light of day?

Way to go Joe Moore!

Now how about working on a few things that relate SPECIFICALLY to your Rogers Park ward? I'm sure there are a few ideas you could kick around. Is he planning a run for mayor in the near future?

the simple fact is resolutions aren't worth the parchment paper they're printed on. Moore is pandering in high political form: a righteous rage over a almost universally felt sentiment that has no implications or ramifications for himself or anyone else. sad, but true.

A cheap stunt by Ald. Moore, meant to distract from his dismal performance. He is campaigning in the 49th ward on meaningless slogans: He says he is working for a "greener" community (but doesn't define it, while litter abounds in the 49th), he wants a "living wage" (but doesn't define it while he gets over 100,000 a year), and other meaningless items. Sure, this sounds good. So does "a chicken in every pot."

actually, this resolution IS going to accomplish something. and ald. moore's drafting is accomplishing a hell of a lot more than you sitting around and doing nothing to fix the problem, decency.

i realize you can't see into the future, bob, but what exactly will the resolution accomplish? Bring CTA officials before the City Council for a public scolding even though the Council has no control over the CTA? Wow. And even if that does occur, the resolution itself does not require or even impose upon CTA officials to appear before the almighty city council. So how is this resolution anything more than hollow posturing?

And apparently since I’m not doing anything to fix the CTA, I should just keep my mouth shut? Really? I’m an informed voter and active in my ward. But you’re right I’m not trained in rail maintenance or lobbying non-elected officials. Sorry, i guess i should just shut up and congratulate Moore for doing next to nothing for his ward or this city–again.

I agree with Bob.

'decency' even if you don't believe it's worth the paper it's printed on, what good does it do to say that? Instead of discouraging, how about encouraging? It sounds like you feel the same way that all of us do and you seem to be knowledgable about what we can and cannot accomplish as informed citizens. So why not make a suggestion instead of a disparaging remark?

Granted a city council resolution won't shake the world, but at least someone is calling CTA to account in a public and potentially embarrassing manner. It's not the answer but it is a start and could be just the thing to get momentum going towards a more politically impacting solution.

How about a resolution cutting the number of alderman in this city by half. Think the CTA is wasting money? I can’t think of a greater waist of money then these 100,000 dollar a year alderman sitting around talking about trans fats and foi grass.

First of all, Coolhand doesn’t agree with Bob. Bob says resolution WILL accomplish something. This is patently false as a resolution requires nothing of anybody, it just has to be read out loud at the Council–that’s all a resolution requires from anybody (and why their so darn popular with officials.) On the other hand, CoolHand says a resolution COULD accomplish something (a much more refined position.) Okay, that’s possible, I just don’t see a precedent for holding out any hope, or congratulating an Alderman for forwarding a piece of paper.

I think this will amount to nothing partly because it is a CTA Tattler exclusive. Nothing against this site, but unless the papers or tv news pick this up it will be a voice in the wilderness. Something tells me the city council isn't big on reading blogs.

Those who have stated that the City Council has no role overseeing the CTA are simply incorrect. The mayor's nominees to the Board* must be approved by the City Council (See the Illinois Metropolitan Transit Authority Act for the legal verbiage).

The exercise of ongoing oversight would seem to flow naturally from that explicit power--it's just too bad the Council has punted and done nothing for so many years. Perhaps the CTA would be slightly less awful if aldermen had actually done something to earn their salaries all this time. Kudos to Aldermen Moore and Munoz for stepping up to the plate.

Incidentally, there is no such position as president of the CTA, at least under state law. Kruesi's statutory title is "executive director." (I wonder who originally puffed that up to "president.")

*He appoints 4 of the 7 members, the governor appoints the remaining 3--and both the mayor and governor must make appointments acceptable to the other.

Sun Times has picked this up.

...and thus the ball gets rolling.

Way to go Tattler! Another topic broached!

Moore is doing this to take the heat off of himself because of the $1000 bribe he took to secretly end a liquor license moratorium in his ward.
It's amazing how this has not made the big papers!
See this article for the full story:
http://www.pioneerlocal.com/newsstar/news/186843,SN-liquorstore-1227060s1.article

HEY! All of you people who are complaining about Joe Moore Might as well STAND BY! This is my Alderman. I have complaining to him about the CTA at the Morse redline station for years! Look at the resolution he introduced and his press release and compare it to some of my previous posts! Many of the issues he cites are identical to what I've been saying all along. Like I've said previously, me and several of my friends have been seruptitiously taking literally HUNDREDS of digital pics and DOZENS of hours of Camcorder video of CTA LYING, INCOMPETENCE, LAZINESS, CRIMINAL NEGLIGENCE & CORRUPTION and we've been sending it to Ald. Moore (and others who will remain nameless for now!) We just didn't think he or anyone else was paying attention! But from what I hear, several Alderman are about to climb up CTA's ass with a microscope & they are going to bring a Lunch! So all of the CTA apologists/employess lurking on this board pretending to be normal human beings and making excuses for the CTA can give it a rest. The CTA Gravy train is over! And actual photographic evidence is available to facilitate the process. All of the so called "people" lurk on this board and try to cover for CTA might as well face it, you've been caught. The real truth about CTA is about to be made extremely public and there is nothing you can do to stop it!

I live in another ward and I often wish I lived back in Rogers Park. No i'm sure Moore's not perfect but this resolution, on it's merits, is a good first step for the city.

The CTA needs immediate change. Seeing other cities and country's mass transit systems has only driven this home. We're getting screwed on the way the system is run ... it's just become much more apparent in the last couple of years.

I'll be asking my Alderman to support this 100%.

> Moore says residents in his transit-reliant ward are calling his office on nearly a daily basis complaining about the precipitous decline in service. “Rapid transit, it ain’t,” said Moore.

Constituents are calling in the news

Somebody had to tell Moore about this, or he wouldn't know. He doesn't take public transportation. He drives downtown. His personal PAC Citizens for Joe Moore picks up his lease, gas, parking, and insurance. Here's some typical cahrges from his last disclosure:

Toyota Financial Services (Carol Stream) $328.00 6/14/2006
CITGO $32.25 6/8/2006
GEICO $242.00 6/2/2006
General Parking (172 W. Madison) $13.20 5/18/2006
CITGO $50.00 5/15/2006
General Parking (172 W. Madison) $17.00 5/11/2006

Campaign Disclosure

http://www.elections.state.il.us/CampaignDisclosure

T-minus 6 weeks and Moore notices Red Line service sucks. Moore issues a press release and O'Neill runs it. Some of us noticed this a while back.

Damn, he's on top of things. If he really believe in the issue don't you think he would have come out sooner. It's a campaign stunt and we all know it. Thank god I don't live in his ward. He's a total wack job and has accomblished nothing. Time for him to get a real job.

This is nothing more than a cheap publicity stunt to save a dying campain and run on the CTA Tattler by Moore's friend Kevin O'Neill.

I wasn't entirely convinced before but Moore and his buddies that have been running our ward for the last 16 years need to go. Yeah, red line service sucks. Big news flash there. I don't dispute that. I do think it's funny that this came out within 24 after the news reports that Rogers Park commuters will have double travel times during the reconstruction projects.

I won't burden you all with the problems in our ward, but this ain't gonna work. Joe's goose is cooked. No pun intended.

Exclusive?

Well, technically, I guess.

Seems more like a pol handing off a press release to a supporter, though.

Hearings are a great idea. Wonder why Mr Moore didn't think of them before, as signs of transit decay and foul-ups have been pretty strong for the last year. Perhaps he was too busy with liver issues.

Well, it's good to see the crazies are still out there. Criminal negligence? Incompetence? Corruption? I'd love to see some specific, actual evidence of any of these.

Basically, what the resolution suggests is that CTA not ask for and then spend special monies on justified transit planning projects until everything is fixed, which will never happen without the State changing how transit is funded. Further, if CTA put separately-funded projects on hold, how does that create more revenue for track repairs? It doesn't.

It's tragic that aldermen don't understand that there isn't just one big pot that's filled without conditions and that if you spend money on one project that it somehow takes from another.

If CTA stopped moving forward with studies on things like the Circle Line or the Red Line extension, all we'd do is end up further behind on having a transit infrastructure that serves the city's needs and can sustain the demand Chicago's continued growth will place upon it.

CTA isn't putting off its regular maintenance by doing the planning and research it should be doing as a transit agency. And if they stopped doing anything but maintenance altogether, we'd end up with just as bad a system that also forgot to plan for the future.

Also, I'm not sure what deterioration in the quality of service there really is. More slow zones--due to underfunding of CTA's regular capital budget. Two derailments coincidentally happened this year. In neither case was any kind of neglect a part of it, as the entire system is continually inspected, each bit of system at least once every week or so, and no trouble was seen. It looks like one was a freak incident, the other a potential error of one human being.

Otherwise, a CTA train leaves a terminal around 1200 times every weekday, and it gets to its destination terminal on-time most of the time. Of what's late, very rarely are there truly substantial delays, since only 0.3% of all CTA trains in 2006 Q3 arrived at their destinations 10 minutes late or more. This is a pretty damned good service record, regardless of how annoyingly often we all end up on a train that's stuck behind another train or sit for a few minutes in a subway tube between stations.

The real solution is to better fund CTA so it can operate and embark on capital improvements in the ways that Chicago needs, not to set the system further behind in yet another area of its responsibility by abandoning transit planning altogether. CTA is not diverting funds to study the Circle Line, it's using funds it got for that project in the first place. Zero sum either way when it comes to rail maintenance.

I guess I'm just sick of people barking up the wrong tree about what's wrong with transit in Chicago. It's not that CTA's priorities are bad, or that the whole system is mismanaged, or that they don't know how to run a railroad. It all comes down to three words, people: funding, funding funding.

Tony, before I get started, please know that I'm not "slapping" you, but let's be honest. CTA has shot themselves in the foot on more than one occasion by (a) not being honest to the citizens of Chicago and (b) not being honest to the "big wigs" in the state capital. They lie to the state and get funding and then throw it down a black hole. They lie to the citizens of Chicago and stations get closed that shouldn't, service continues to get worse...need I go on? This is why the state (and soon-to-be-the-Feds) will not give CTA any more money, because THEY WASTE IT.

Furthermore, I have to honestly agree with the alderman that called CTA a "third world transit system". I'm sure you've traveled to other cities and have seen other transit systems; why can't CTA brass take some time out of their "busy" schedule and go get some pointers on how it's REALLY done?

This after they apologize to the state and the city of Chicago first.

Those of you who refer to CTA's service as "third world" have clearly never tried to use what passes for transit in St.Louis, Detroit, Dallas,Denver,Kansas City, Los Angeles, Seattle, or dozens of other cities where you are completely stranded after midnight and where the buses only run once every 40 minutes.

Public transit of all types is a horror in the United States because for 80 years we have dedicated an excessive portion of our tax money to highways, highway, highways, and to car furniture in general, at the expense of public transit. Long distance transit here is a horror, whether by plane or train; and city transit almost does not exist in most cities in this country, because we decided almost 90 years ago that the best use of our tax money was to subsidize auto ownership and use by means of 'free' highways, and way more roads than we would need if only half the population drove.

Only NYC, Boston, and San Francisco have better systems, and it's an unfair comparison even then. Keep in mind that San Francisco's BART was put into place as a new, seamless whole with mostly federal funds that we all contributed to, and that you still can't really live without a car there, as you can here, and as I do.

CTA is competing for funding with our highway system, which is always more or less under construction and replete with slow zones. Do you not know why the slow zones are there? If you want the CTA to rebuild the decrepitating red line, you had better get used to slow zones and the ensuing delays because these zones are essential to protect the workers on the tracks, and to keep the train at speeds appropriate for the rail, which is rather compromised while work is done to widen the tracks to accomodate larger platforms.

There is no way to do this without pain, sorry. Any motorist creeping through construction zones on the highway could tell you this, and your $2 fare for the train is costing way less than all the gasoline the motorist is burning in traffic congestion and construction zones.

Moore is making yet another last ditch effort to get re-elected, since the fois gras and big box issues blew up in his face. NOW he is asking for justification of the Block 37 el station, even though he voted to fund it with Central District TIF money. Why wasn't he asking the mayor for an explanation of why we need to spend $213MM on one el station? The Block 37 station was not CTA's idea- it was something our mayor and rich downtown power brokers wanted, and that's who decides what is funded and what is built.

> How about a resolution cutting the number of alderman in this city by half.

Good suggestion, as far as it goes, but it doesn't go far enough.

One alderman is all we need if all they are going to do is vote unanimously on everything.

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