Javier Perez’s full speech to the CTA board

It’s probably too late for me to post this, seeing as the Chicago Transit Authority board approved the budget on Tuesday, but here is the full text of Javier Perez’s speech to the board on November 7, 2011, which I wrote about in “There is no typical CTA rider“. But it’s not really too late because the union workers and the management haven’t agreed to the concessions the CTA budget depends on.


Javier Perez, trustee of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 241, speaks while Gregory P. Longhini, Assistant Secretary of the Board, moderates.

Good evening to the public, our riders, the Board and membership of Locals 241 and 308. Good evening Chairman Peterson, Mr. Claypool and members of the public and community groups.

At the last hearing I addressed what I called Mr. Claypool’s myths attacking CTA employees and ATU [Amalgamated Transit Union] members. If CTA’s Budget is based on these fables there are big problems ahead for all of us. A house built on sand will not stand and a budget built on myths will not survive.

Most employers faced with an expanded customer base, increased revenue and being able to do so with more productive employees would be ecstatic. Most employers would reward or at least congratulate their employees for doing more with less. In fact the former head of the CTA did so.

International Vice President Marcellus Barnes* and I had a brief meeting with Mr. Claypool, we both left with hope that there was a change we could believe in.

Unfortunately, shortly thereafter, we heard the mthys and saw the tired old tactics that have failed the public. Tactics that Governors Walker [Wisconsin] and Kasich [Ohio] have obtained a lot of press for but with no results.

Tactics that seek to scapegoat CTA employees, some who fall into the group called the greatest generation, and also blaming other employees who served their country in Vietnam, and some who have served or with sons and daughters currently serving in the Middle East. As the John Fogerty song says “we are not the fortunate one”. We are the 99%. All our members who served and others are the employees who have made the CTA more productive.

Some may find it in vogue to scapegoat public employees be they bus operators, maintenance, general office personnel, teachers, firefighters or police. Some may find it in vogue to scapegoat and decry public investment. Let all remember, the moon landing, the federal highway system, the Internet are but a few examples of how public employees and public investment has helped our country grow and create jobs while doing so.

The Chicago Transit Authority, a musical group now known as Chicago once asked, “Does anyone really know what time it is?”
Isn’t time to leave the scape goating behind?
Isn’t it time to work in partnership with all CTA employees and the Chicago community?
Isn’t time to roll up our sleeves and work together to help our nation reduce our dependence on foreign oil?

We the members of Lcoal 241 in concert with Local 308 and other CTA employees are the artery that carries the life blood of Chicago.

Together we can be innovative and creative in providing a service built on a sound budget. We invite you to belly up to the table. Whatever your choice Local 241 and our sister Local in concert with the public know that together we can and together we will.

*Barnes is also a trustee of Local 241. 

There is no typical CTA rider


Javier Perez, trustee of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 241, speaks while Gregory P. Longhini, Assistant Secretary of the Board, moderates. 

I’m writing this article just two hours after getting home from the Chicago Transit Authority’s (CTA) second budget hearing. It was held from 6 to 8 PM at its headquarters, 567 W Lake Street. The hearing is where you gain a good understanding of how changes in the way the organization charges for or provides service will affect people.

It’s also where you learn that there is no “average” Chicago transit user. Passengers who use CTA have extremely diverse needs, geographic origins and destinations, jobs, incomes, and beliefs about who should run public transit service and how it should be run.

Not a single person disagreed that it is a necessity to have a “good” transit service in Chicagoland – many speakers stressed the importance of having transit in the region. They showed up because they want the CTA to maintain its current service and even expand service. They showed up because the CTA is important to them. Continue reading There is no typical CTA rider

Was Emanuel saying he would use congestion parking tax for bike lanes a fluke?

It’s been a week and a day since Mayor Emanuel gave a speech to Chicago City Council describing the 2012 budget his administration proposes. In that speech he proposed a $2 per weekday tax on people who park in garages downtown and in River North, in order to “invest in new and existing stations, and bus rapid transit stations, expand bike lanes, and other efforts to reduce congestion in the downtown area”.

In the past eight days, it’s been announced that this “congestion premium” would help pay to construct a new Green Line station at Cermark Road, within blocks of McCormick Place, and help launch a bus rapid transit (BRT) system.

But not a single repeat mention of bike lanes. It wasn’t in the press release, no newspaper is talking about it, and the mayor himself hasn’t mentioned it again. To make sure I wasn’t misreading things or hearing him say it wrong, I took a screenshot of the live transcript on the City Clerk’s website.


Fourth line from the bottom and you see “bike lanes”. Right now the city is using general revenue funds to pay for the installation of protected bike lanes; using its own tax revenues for bikeways is something the city has rarely done – the bulk of all bikeway installation is paid for by federal (80%) and state funds.

Rahm’s budget proposal and bike lanes


There might be peace in the downtown streets if Mayor Emanuel’s budget is approved by City Council. He proposes a parking garage fee to discourage driving on weekdays. 

I’m reading the live transcript of Mayor Emaneul’s speech to City Council to introduce the “features” of his administration’s 2012 budget proposal. The speech was later emailed to people who signed up for the campaign mailing list. This article will be updated as I find new information.

The interesting stuff?


“On a typical workday our central business district is jammed with people which makes it harder to do business, so I’m proposing that downtown congestion premium of $2 per day only on weekdays for parking garages and lots downtown and in River North. We would use this new revenue to invest in new and existing stations, and bus rapid transit stations, expand bike lanes, and other efforts to reduce congestion in the downtown area.”

Excellent! Now will this revenue go to a trust fund so that the revenues can only be spent for this purpose? If not, I surely hope that your budget and spending is transparent where we can see how much the City collects from this fee and how much is spent on those congestion-fighting initiatives.

More on this from the press release:

Congestion Premium for CTA: $28 million

On a typical workday, our Central Business District is jammed with vehicles, which makes it harder to do business.  Our streets are crowded, roads in need of repair and pollution created by drivers is unhealthy for Chicagoans.  Suburban drivers who use city services and infrastructure need to help pay the costs for these things.   The congestion fee is an incentive for drivers to take public transportation or pay more to park downtown.

  • Impose a “congestion premium” on all drivers parking in downtown parking garages and lots on weekdays of $2 per occasion, for a total fee of $5 on the top tier rate. ( $3 on weekends).
  • Impose weekly parking fees where the cost is $60 and above, (tax increase from $15 to $25) and monthly parking where the costs is $240 and above (tax from $60 to $100).

Parking garage owners will not like this.

Heavy vehicles will cost more for drivers

“It’s estimated that 80% of the damage to Chicago’s streets is caused by a small share of heavy vehicles like trucks and SUVs. We are proposing a modest increase for heavy vehicles that do the most damage. If you drive a standard size or small car, the cost of your city sticker will stay at $75. 75% of Chicagoans will see no increase. Heavy vehicle owners will pay $135 for a city sticker, up from $120. Some of the additional revenue will go to fill an additional 160,000 potholes in 2012, nearly a 40% increase over this year.”

Upcoming hearings

The first budget hearing will begin at 9 AM on Wednesday, October 19, 2011.

The public hearing will begin at 11 AM on Wednesday, November 2, 2011.


Rahm also said, “All all these reforms will be guided by principle, by pragmatism, and by progress. Not politics.”

The case of the disappearing bike lane

Updated June 22, 2011: Added “Note” section about Vincennes and Roosevelt bike lane removals.

Have you been riding on a Chicago street in the bike lane and noticed how part of the bike lane striping disappears in certain stretches or doesn’t seem to exist at all? The bike map shows it, as do the BIKE LANE signs on the sidewalk.


This is a photo of the Elston Avenue bike lane, at North Avenue. Or is it? Can you see the bike lane striping or bike symbol on the pavement?

What happened to them?

Continue reading The case of the disappearing bike lane