CTA HEARING Update
In City Council this week, there was an ordinance to have hearings with the CTA that would require an number of additional hearings on transit issues, in a different jurisdiction, and require the CTA president to show up at all meetings where a city expenditure was contemplated. Our review of the ordinance led us to the conclusion that the way it was written would hold up potential projects like the Red Line Extension to the south parts of the City that are outside the existing rail system. After having a great discussion with Alderman Vasquez (the ordinance sponsor) on how to fix the ordinance to meet the code and practical ways to hold the CTA to extra accountability at the City Council, we are amending the ordinance and will be having a hearing within the next few weeks.
If you want to speak directly to the appointees on the CTA board, you can also make your voice heard at the CTA Board meetings- the next one is on November 16th at 3:30 p.m.
The governing arm of the CTA is the Chicago Transit Board. The Board consists of seven members, with four appointed by the Mayor of Chicago and three appointed by the Governor of Illinois.
The Mayor's appointees are subject to the approval of the Governor and the Chicago City Council; the Governor's appointees are subject to the approval of the Mayor and the Illinois State Senate. CTA's day-to-day operations are directed by Dorval R. Carter, Jr., President.
The current Mayoral appointees are Lester L. Barclay, Alejandro Silva, Michele A. Lee and Rev. Johnny L. Miller. The current gubernatorial appointees are Rev. Dr. L. Bernard Jakes, Neema Jha, and Rosa Y. Ortiz. Lester L. Barclay serves as Chairman of the Chicago Transit Board.
Aldermen have been meeting with the CTA, even during Covid, on operational and funding issues and will continue to do so. There have been hearings and briefings for aldermen in the Committee on Finance regarding an increase of security, fixing operational issues as the post-pandemic ridership increased again, and finding ways to get more people back to work in the CTA. Like many businesses and municipal agencies and departments, the CTA is suffering from a high vacancy rate in every position from mechanics to bus drivers with hundreds of positions open. While the CTA put in place several changes that were meant to fix these problems they still have a lot of work to do to fix these issues in the short and long term.
We have also been in the process of preparing hearings with the CTA for the Red Line extension that will expand to and serve the south side of the City for the first time ever. The Committee on Finance already hears all major CTA financial requests and aldermen have already been holding hearings in the Finance Committee on City funding such as Tax Increment Financing. We also passed those expenditures once they met the state and federal requirements, such as minority contracting percentages.
Finally, many of my staff and I take buses and trains to work and on personal time. We all know what it is like to take the CTA. We've fought for years to improve the CTA system in our ward and in the City. Whether it is regarding bus routes, tunnels to O'Hare, Red Line expansion, or public safety and quality of life issues on the system, we will continue to push the CTA board and staff to improve as it enters a third century of existence.