Despite low turnout at hearing, CTA riders trash the board and the budget
I've seen some contentious CTA public hearings. Last night's was almost a walk in the park compared to last year's Doomsday hearings.
But that doesn't mean people aren't pissed about the pending fare hike. And many other things, including stinky buses, the Block 37 fiasco and buses with broken lifts.
About 100 CTA customers gave Ron Huberman and the entire CTA board many earfuls. (Or is it "earsful"?) Many questioned the collective competency of those sitting at the front of the room. "This (fare increase) is just incompetency," said a representative of Citizens Taking Action. "This is just typical CTA crap. Either do your job or resign. You people disgust me. I'm done." All-righty then.
Our own KevinB suggested a way to save $1 million -- dump the $850,000 Jones Lang real estate contract, and fire the chief marketing officer making almost $200,000. Kevin kindly even offered up a new idea for the CTA gift store: "The Block 37 Black Hole Bank -- you put money in it and it disappears down a black hole."
Some folks questioned the projected huge increase in fuel costs, since the price of gas is now falling. Others argued for keeping the 10% bonus on Chicago Card fill-up with $20.
Lawrence Msall of the Civic Federation provided a lone voice of approval of the fare increase; "It's reasonable and responsible because it maintains service." And the CTA "shows responsibility" by cutting more than 600 jobs.
Msall also opined that there's "no reasonable explanation for giving free rides to seniors." He urged the CTA to "push back" against the Legislature and "target free rides to those who aren't able to pay."
The room with about 150 seats was maybe 65% full. A "spillover room" stood at the ready, but went unused. Greg Longhini, the board secretary, said he only got about 50 comments in advance of the meeting, compared with well over 500 last year.
But folks, even if the room were full and 200 commenters opposed the budget, I'm fairly certain we'll see the board OK the budget on Nov. 12.