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A bicycle commuter who rides four miles to work, five days a week, avoids 2,000 miles of driving and about 2,000 pounds of CO2 emissions each year.

Cook County backs off CTA funding cuts; Metra and CTA approve budgets

It’s been an eventful few weeks for transit in the Chicago region. So here’s a recap to keep you up-to-date.

Cook County backs off CTA funding cuts – thank you for taking action!
Thank you to our supporters who took action to prevent CTA funding cuts! The Cook County Board waded into the transit budget fray last week by suddenly proposing to slash county funding for the CTA by two-thirds, from $2 million to just $675,000—and jeopardizing at least another $128 million in RTA discretionary funding.

Riders for Better Transit responded by issuing an action alert and many of you took action, sending more than 1,000 messages to Cook County leaders in less than 24 hours. Our voices were heard. We’re happy to report that the next day Cook County dropped the proposal to cut CTA funding!

Update on fare increases and service cuts – Metra and CTA approve budgets
As Metra and CTA rolled out their budgets this fall, Riders for Better Transit issued an action alert to hold our elected leaders responsible for the lack of transit funding in our region.

We'll continue to face the annual threat of service cuts and fare increases as long as Chicagoland train and bus service is insufficiently funded. Our supporters have taken action by sending nearly 3,000 messages to their state and federal elected representatives!

These elected leaders hold the purse strings, and riders are speaking out in unison, sending a clear message that we need to increase investment in transit. We know many of you even received responses from your elected leaders, showing that our message is starting to get through.

Riders for Better Transit staff also gave public comments at CTA's and Metra's budget hearings. We still have a long battle ahead of us to win additional transit funding, and we knew this would not be an easy or short-term effort. With your help, we can continue to build the voice of transit riders to be a powerful force.

Metra fares are increasing
On Nov. 11, Metra’s Board approved its proposed budget, which includes an average 25 percent fare increase for 2012. We know this will be a hardship for many riders. Riders, please also note that Metra has changed the expiration policy for some tickets to help prevent stockpiling. Tickets bought after Nov. 12 will expire in February (details here).

CTA fare increases and service cuts remain uncertain
The CTA approved its budget Nov. 15. As we’ve written previously, the CTA proposed a budget with no service cuts or fare hikes, but this is largely based on the uncertain outcome of labor negotiations.

The union contract expires at the end of December, and depending on the outcome of labor negotiations, CTA may need to revisit its budget in the spring. We’ll keep you posted.

We encourage CTA management and labor to negotiate in good faith to find any possible efficiencies on both sides that could prevent service cuts and fare increases, but we recognize that ultimately the CTA’s budget deficit is the responsibility of our elected leaders who have put transit on the back-burner.

Thank you!
As Thanksgiving approaches, a special thanks goes to all of you who responded to our action alerts, took our survey, have signed up for email updates and “Liked” us on Facebook.

Please tell your friends (and maybe even your family, over turkey dinner) that they can help too.

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