Bad day for transit

The CTA today announced its "doomsday scenario" of fare increases and service cuts that will go into effect in September if the state legislature refuses to cover the $110 million budget deficit. Service on the Yellow Line and Purple Line Express would be eliminated. A new fare structure with higher rates during rush hour would be implemented. Rush hour prices would be $3.25/ride on the El and $2.75 on buses, at other times it would be $2.50 and $2.25 respectively. All bus routes that currently do not run on Sundays would be eliminated.

Underfunded transit is a nationwide problem. Today Los Angeles's MTA also announced major fare increases, in some cases doubling the cost of multiday passes. Philadelphia's SEPTA yesterday postponed a final decision on its own doomsday proposal, which would raise fares 31 percent while cutting service by 20 percent. Boston's MBTA is projected to fall between $4 and $8 billion short in funding over the next 20 years. California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's budget proposal would cut $1.3 billion from public transit.

Public transportation is not a far left-wing cause. In all these cases, business groups support adequate transit funding because they know that a working transport system is essential to a functioning economy. Yet legislators not only ignore the oncoming devastation of global warming, they even ignore their corporate patrons. The impregnable position of cars in our culture seems to be the best explanation. How do you address an injustice that the vast majority of the population embraces?

1 comment:

Eric said...

I wasn't aware that transit funding was in such dire straits elsewhere. I suspect your car-culture hypothesis is right. Little surprise that politicians would not fund systems that they themselves probably never use that seem expensive at face value (though actually a bargain).