Press Release
February 14, 2008

Daley Challenges CTA to Maintain Commitment to Provide Quality Service

Says Riders Need Reliable, On Time and Safe Public Transportation
Announces $200 Million Project to End Train Slow Zones
Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

Now that its immediate financial crisis has been solved, the CTA needs to build on its commitment to operating a quality system that is on time, gets people to their destination and is safe, Mayor Richard M. Daley said today.

"The question is what happens next, now that the CTA has the operating funding it needs to provide ongoing service at a reasonable price," Daley said in a news conference held At CTA headquarters, 567 W. Lake St., at which he outlined several next steps the CTA should consider taking.

"As we look to the future, the CTA needs to maintain its focus on improving the quality of service it provides to riders day by day. To its credit, over the past several years the CTA has made many improvements in management. They've come far and I have every confidence they'll keep the system's progress going.

"That's why today we are pleased to announce that the CTA is launching a $200 million program with federal funding that will improve the safety and reliability of the system and reduce CTA slow zones on the rail system by over 68 per cent. It will also reduce travel time for users of the L," the Mayor said.

Construction is set to begin in March and will be concluded by the first quarter of 2009. When the work is finished, trains will be able to travel at 65 miles per hour or greater on key portions of the system, something that has not happened since 1963, Daley said.

"This is a one-time federal investment in our capital needs. We can't use it for operations. Unfortunately, the state legislature has yet to provide meaningful long term capital funding for the system and we haven't received capital funds from the state in more than four years," he said.

"The state needs to act on a capital program. To get to a good state of repair, the CTA needs $6.3 billion," the Mayor said.

Daley identified several ideas and approaches he thinks the CTA should use to guide its thinking and make sure the system continues to improve.

  • In the next few months, publicly detail its plans to improve the system and continue to hold itself accountable to riders and taxpayers. Then, keep the city's neighborhoods informed regarding the implementation of plans.
  • To continue to get the most from every tax dollar, he challenged the CTA to manage even better and further cut spending so more funds can be reinvested in service delivery. The CTA needs to develop a management system which demands that buses be on time.
  • The CTA needs to think about how to creatively finance improved service delivery. It needs to look for additional ways to partner with the private sector to do things such as finance station improvements and make it easier for passengers to buy tickets and get schedule information.
  • Continue its focus on a system that provides quality services, using the latest innovations and technology, such as continuing to install GPS technology throughout the system to eliminate bunching and reliably track buses and trains. The CTA also needs to develop a management system which demands that buses be on time.
  • Provide more and better information to riders regarding delays, provide electronic signs at stations giving real time information on the next train arrival, provide e-mail alerts, especially to regular passengers of the system and improve its online information capability.
  • Make sure all CTA employees who deal with the public are trained to do so.
  • Invest in system safety. This includes: installing more safety cameras on buses, trains and at stations and stops throughout the system; enhancing maintenance practices for buses and trains - better inspections of brakes and doors, for example; stepping up efforts to monitor train tracks. They need to make sure their monitoring standards are as rigorous as possible.
  • Continue efforts to make sure stations, buses and trains are clean and up-to-date. There are still 1,000 trains and buses in the system that are over 25 years old. Perhaps there is a creative financing tool they can use to update the rest.

Now is also the time they need to consider building new stations with improved amenities, consider partnering with the private sector to provide retail services at key station and consider installing more express vending machines that accept credit and debit cards to make it easier and faster to get tickets. "A modern public transportation system is essential to the future of our state, our region and our city. It is vital to our economic security and to our ability to recruit new businesses and create new jobs," Daley said. "Today, I've challenged the CTA and its leaders to continue working to provide quality services to the riders of the CTA. At the end of the day, as the leaders of the CTA agree, it's important for Chicago to have a system of public transportation that works for our people. "But, most importantly, now that there is stability in funding for the system for a while, they need to stay focused on improving services and building a quality system for our riders," Daley said.