Chicago Transit is going through some hard times


I have been in Chicago for a few days and make a habit of picking up the Chicago Reader, an incredible alt weekly reminding me of the best of Boston's Weekly Dig and the Village Voice.

After living in Chicago last summer studying at the iO, i came to depend on the CTA (bus and rail). After reading about peak oil, I came to realize just how critical public transit (and support for it) is for all of us. Today I saw this in the Reader:

Chicago transit is bracing for cuts

Year after year public transit authorities across this country struggle with budget shortfalls, service cuts and overall mismanagement. We have so subsidized the automobile, yet we demand mass rail and bus be "self sufficient." Mass air travel, on the other hand, is free to seek government bailouts every 7 years or so. Car transportation benefits from the "free" road systems maintained by the government.

Back to Chicago. This ad really struck me as desperate. When the head of your public transit authority has to take out a full page ad in an alt weekly to announce fare increases, reduced service and beg the citizens to beg the legislature for more money, it is hard to find any source of faith in our society's ability to adapt to an energy-poor future.

I wish my people in Chicago the best. Mostly i wish that through hardship they will find the anger and energy to prioritize more stable financing of the CTA. I also realize that it's not all about money. Mis/management is a big problem with transit systems as today's Chicago Tribune cover story suggests.