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Riders denounce CTA budget at public meetings

Arrogant CTA executives ignore speakers, should be fired

The Party for Socialism and Liberation is mobilizing to stop CTA fare hikes, service cuts and layoffs. There will be a protest at the CTA board meeting on Thursday, Nov. 12 at 9 a.m. For more information on the campaign to stop the CTA budget visit NoCTAcuts.org.

On Oct. 29, Nov. 2 and Nov. 3, the Chicago Transit Authority held public meetings on the 2010 budget. Over 300 people came out to voice their opposition to sweeping rate hikes, service cuts and layoffs.

Many activists, including members of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, spoke out at all the meetings. But the vast majority of people who stepped up to the microphone came to the meetings on their own and spoke from their hearts to reject the 2010 budget. They were working people, seniors, students and disabled people who cannot afford the rate hikes and service cuts. Most were in a fighting mood.

The CTA is threatening across-the-board rate hikes, including raising the single-ride train fare to $3, a 33 percent increase.

At the meetings, CTA board members and CTA President Richard Rodriguez showed nothing but disdain for the people. Not one single board member commented or answered a single question during any of the meetings. In fact, during the public comment, the board members sat entirely expressionless, reclined in their seats, and in some cases were sound asleep.

At the end of the Nov. 2 meeting, the board members were met with jeers as they left the auditorium. On Nov. 3, only three transit officials showed up. On Nov. 12, the CTA is planning to pass the 2010 budget at its monthly meeting.

Fire the CTA Board!

The CTA board members and executives don’t care about public transit. Why would they? They don’t have to ride transit to work. They didn’t ride the bus or the train to the public meetings. They run the CTA like a corporation, make comfortable salaries and live in an entirely different world than most of the 1 million workers who rely on and ride the CTA everyday.

The public meetings were not taken seriously by the CTA. The meetings were advertised with small signs at select train and bus stops. They were held at times and locations that made attendance very difficult for people who use the CTA. Three brief meetings on weeknights are not a sufficient number—not for something as important as major reductions to the public transit system. Bus service is slated to be cut back by 18 percent.

CTA President Rodriguez makes $200,000 a year. Most CTA executives make over $130,000, much more than the average worker who relies on the CTA to get to work and to get around. Board members have other sources of income and make $25,000 as a side “job.” They are not elected but appointed by the mayor and the governor.

The criminal 2010 budget proposal from the CTA, with its drastic fare hikes, service cuts and 2,000 layoffs during the worst economic crisis in generations, makes matters very clear: The CTA board is not looking after working people’s needs or representing, serving or defending the interests of workers. In fact, they are attacking working people by threatening to increase hardship and make workers pay for the economic crisis.

CTA executives, along with the mayor, the governor and the majority of others in government, serve the interests of a tiny corporate elite. They attempt to shield them from any necessity to bear any of the economic burden of transit and other public and social services.

The very reasonable idea of increasing taxes on corporations, millionaires and billionaires to pay for the CTA shortfall is not even remotely considered. Why not? They can spare the money without any hardship, and their wealth is a direct result of exploiting, for their own personal gain, the hard work of millions of CTA riders and workers.

Why is it that we have to reach into our own pockets to pay extra for transit, while the enormous bank accounts of the wealthy are sacrosanct? Why are transit jobs on the chopping block when we not only paid to save the bankers’ jobs and companies but are paying for their billions in bonuses? Why does one bus driver or mechanic or transit clerk have to lose their job, especially when they need them the most?

The CTA budget crisis could be solved. The $300 million “shortfall” that the CTA is blaming on the economic crisis is nothing compared to the wealth that Chicago workers create every year. Solving the crisis would be made much easier if the CTA board and executives were fired and replaced with workers, students and others who rely on transit to get to work and get around.

That’s right: if transit is in “crisis” during the economic crisis caused by Wall Street and the banks and the only way arrogant transit board members can solve the crisis is to make working people pay for it, lose their service and lose their jobs, then workers should own and run the Chicago Transit Authority and every mass transit system in the country.

No Rate Hikes, Service Cuts or Layoffs!

Protest the CTA Budget on Nov. 12!

 

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