The Chicago Sun-Times
ILLINOIS – The CTA board agreed Wednesday to borrow $550 million through the issuance of bonds so the agency can buy 406 new L cars.
The cars originally were ordered in 2006, and the CTA has been testing prototypes of the cars to make sure they hold up in all weather.
The new cars, manufactured by Bombardier Transit Corp. in Pennsylvania, will replace L cars that are 30 to 40 years old. A malfunction on one of these cars was blamed for leaving 1,500 passengers trapped in the Blue Line subway in April 2008.
The new cars include security cameras and seats facing the aisle. The CTA last bought new L cars in the 1990s. The total cost of the new cars will be $674 million.
The CTA plans to pay off the bond issue primarily through federal funding and said some of the money will come through the Illinois Department of Transportation.
The payment for the cars is a planned part of the CTA’s capital budget, which is separate from the operating budget. A $95.6 million operating budget shortfall led to this week’s bus and L service cuts.
The CTA board heard complaints about the cuts on Wednesday. Jackie Shen, executive chef of Red Light restaurant on West Randolph, told the board that the service cuts are hurting her staff members, who often work after midnight. She singled out the cuts in service on the No. 8 Halsted run, one of 41 bus routes on which hours and frequency have been reduced. Riders also face longer waits for L trains.
“We have a hard time with the new bus schedules,” said Shen, noting that her employees have started sharing rides to the L.
Her suggestion: Raise fares.
“Give us great service, we give you the great ridership,” Shen said. “We don’t care if you increase the fare.”
CTA Board Chairman Terry Peterson said the transit agency can’t raise fares for two years under the deal it made for the state to borrow $166 million on behalf of the CTA to stave off a fare increase