Gov. Blagojevich is an idiot at best, a criminal at worst, and totally incapable of running the State of Illinois anywhere but into the ground. He's a terrible governor, and being here in Illinois, that's saying something.
After holding up a transit funding bill in the legislature mere months ago so that he could attach his pet project, free rides for senior citizens, he's cut $37 million from the state budget for mass-transit fare subsidies. He wouldn't pass a transit bill without free rides for seniors, but now he won't fund the program (sounds a lot like NCLB to me) and is cutting back on reduced fares for students and the disabled. With this lead weight hanging around their necks, the RTA is warning of service cuts and/or fare hikes to cover the lost funding.
This is particularly troubling because the CTA was really making improvements on their end. The encouragement that came with the passed funding bill told the transit system "Hey, look, the government's got your back and realizes the importance of public transit." Buses and trains that once were bare had advertising in all available spaces, including across the ceiling. While some riders might be against over-advertising, the ads provide a significant source of income that had been sorely lacking. The CTA planned to use this new found support to improve the rider experience, with new trains and buses, expanded bus tracking online, and station renovations. They were also discussing the possibility of adding supermarkets to L stops, helping riders who use public transit to shop more easily, and bringing in additional revenue.
But now that all will likely be put on hold while the Governor and State Legislature hijack the agenda and force all of Chicago to deal with the possibility of more transit doomsdays. I wish that for just one day all of the RTA would shut down, so that everyone could see how crucial public transit is to our city. If you thought rush hours were bad now: imagine if all the people on Metra, the L, and buses had to clog up the roadways. You want to be at work by 8 or 9? Better leave at 4 am. Not to mention the impact of thousands of idling autos has on the environment.
Heckuva job, Blago.