* That number is the payment backlog in the state’s Public Transportation Fund…
The RTA has resorted to short-term borrowing to stay current in its subsidy payments to the three transit agencies.
“We have maxed out our temporary short-term borrowing capacity,” Redden said.
CTA, Metra and Pace all have cash reserves, but the reserves are intended only as a stop-gap. Redden said all three agencies are looking at options that could include service cuts and fare hikes, which may be needed sometime in the coming quarter.
CTA and Pace have in place 2017 budgets that did not cut service or raise fares; in fact, Pace has augmented service, particularly on its expressway and tollway corridor services. Metra raised fares in February, with the intention of setting aside the additional revenues generated to help pay the local share of federally-funded projects.
…Adding… From the Senate President’s office…
The Senate President spoke at an Elmhurst College event a few weeks ago. His speech included this …
My friend Kirk Dillard, the former DuPage County state senator, is now chairman of the RTA. The state owes that agency about $400 million. The agency borrows to cover the shortfall.
Here’s the catch.
The state doesn’t pay the RTA interest on the money that’s late, but the RTA has to pay interest on the borrowing to cover the state money.
The agency ends up losing about $2 million a year because of this.
That’s enough to buy five new METRA cars or rehab three train stations, which are far better uses of the dollars than paying loan interest.
So, if you use METRA and you think the train cars are too crowded or too old or your local train station is rundown and needs updated, the state’s failure to pay its bills is to blame.