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.
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.