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CTA ‘L’ sees highest ridership in 50 years, yet budget cuts loom

The+Jackson+Red+Line+%E2%80%98L%E2%80%99+stop+%28pictured+above%29+is+a+key+arrival+and+departure+point+for+DePaul+students+and+faculty+at+the+university%E2%80%99s+Loop+Campus.+According+to+an+NBC+5+investigation+earlier+this+year%2C+the+station+recorded+the+most+thefts+of+any+platform+in+the+system.+%28Photo+courtesy+of+Wikimedia+Commons%29
The Jackson Red Line ‘L’ stop (pictured above) is a key arrival and departure point for DePaul students and faculty at the university’s Loop Campus. According to an NBC 5 investigation earlier this year, the station recorded the most thefts of any platform in the system. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

The Jackson Red Line ‘L’ stop (pictured above) is a key arrival and departure point for DePaul students and faculty at the university’s Loop Campus. According to an NBC 5 investigation earlier this year, the station recorded the most thefts of any platform in the system. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

The Jackson Red Line ‘L’ stop (pictured above) is a key arrival and departure point for DePaul students and faculty at the university’s Loop Campus. According to an NBC 5 investigation earlier this year, the station recorded the most thefts of any platform in the system. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

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More than 238 million people rode the ‘L’ in 2014, the highest number in over 50 years.

Yet it is also a number that could be affected dramatically with Governor Bruce Rauner’s recent proposal to cut $130 million in the state funding for mass transit, of which the CTA would face the brunt of the cuts, about $105 million, or seven percent of its overall operating budget.

This could result in deep service cuts and possible fare increases. Less train and bus services at a higher cost could have a substantial effect on the many DePaul students who use the CTA on a daily basis.

“If I had to start waking up earlier just because the train takes longer, I’m by definition going to be a less happy person,” said senior Robert Martin.

Martin takes the ‘L’ almost every day for class and work and thus relies on it as his main source of transportation around the city.

For senior Charles Wynne, the bus is his main mode of transportation during the winter months. He relies heavily on the bus to get to work and school.

“I think it’s important to have a frequent line,” Wynne said. “If it doesn’t come as frequently, I would have to schedule my life way stricter and leave my house at a certain time which would overall lead to an inconvenience.”

One of the major problems Wynne could see potentially arising with the CTA, as a result of Rauner’s proposed budget cuts being passed, is the environmental impact.

“From an environmental standpoint, you are able to commute tons of people on one bus on just one tank of gas,” Wynne said. “Without it, you’re promoting people to get cars, which is going to be worse for the environment. I’m definitely for public transportation as a whole.”

For Martin, the main concern is how many people will be put out of a job.

“Cutting jobs is not a good thing in a city where everyone is struggling to find a job,” Martin said.

There has been no word yet on how Rauner’s plan will affect jobs within the CTA but usually major budget cuts can lead to major job cuts as well.

For example, according to Progress Illinois, Rauner’s proposed budget cuts in Medicaid could mean, “a 10 percent spending cut to hospitals alone (which) would mean the loss of more than 8,200 jobs and $1.1 billion in economic activity.”

According to CTA spokesperson Brian Steele, Rauner’s proposal “would risk reversing improvements the CTA has made in recent years.”

Martin feels, as a result, the CTA needs to “cool it” with the big changes they are going to be going through, although he gets where they are coming from because they might have no other choice.

“I realize it’s difficult cause there’s no easy way to run an operation that big,” Martin said. “If (the CTA is) being sanctioned by Rauner, then I don’t know, what can they even do?”

At the same time, Martin also believes that riders will have no other choice but to accept what is going to happen next with Rauner’s proposal.

“So many people rely on (the CTA) so whether or not it’s screwing them over, they’re going to be taking it everyday still. They have to get to work or (wherever), so I feel like in that sense they can do whatever they want and people are still going to be their customers. No one is going to stop riding or just start biking all the time. I’m not going to do that. (So) they’re kind of in a position where they can do anything but they’re (also) definitely going to piss a lot of people off in the process.”

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CTA ‘L’ sees highest ridership in 50 years, yet budget cuts loom