Forrest Claypool, President of the CTA, is our solo guest on this week’s program.
Claypool inherited a quarter-billion dollar budget deficit when he took the job, and the budget he just got passed is still technically over a hundred million out of balance, but he claims confidently that he’ll get the money by changing “antiquated” work rules and winning union concessions. But he insists he’s doing it to protect the CTA’s work force, with its “generous” pensions and higher salaries. It’s controversial and it will almost certainly stir up a spirited response from the unions representing CTA’s bus drivers, train operators and mechanics. Formal negotiations are about to commence.
On this show, Claypool lays out his case.
CTA is in many ways in better shape than it’s been in years. It has a billion dollars in hand to make some serious improvements on the Red Line. It’s phasing in 700 new state-of-the-art el cars. And ridership continues to rise steadily. But funding from state and federal sources aren’t keeping pace, so more and more of CTA’s operating funds must come from firebox revenues.