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CTA President Dodges Questions About Cuts

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(WGN-AM)- CTA President Richard Rodriguez dodged questions Wednesday on the severity of threatened service cuts needed to close a budget deficit, but the cutbacks will take effect by late summer or fall, regional transit officials said.

Rodriguez conspicuously avoided the touchy subject while delivering a standard speech about the CTA to the City Club of Chicago.

But afterward, questioned by reporters, Rodriguez said the CTA will act quickly once the Regional Transportation Authority votes on funding reductions to the CTA, Metra and Pace, due to plummeting tax collections. The RTA vote is scheduled for Thursday.

Rodriguez said he will scour CTA operations for more internal cuts to ease a $35 million reduction in public funding, which follows a $155 million funding cut just several months ago.

But he reaffirmed that some level of service cuts will likely be necessary to close the budget gap.

Asked if service cuts were coming, Rodriguez said, "That's what it appears like.''

"I can't necessarily stand here and say that specific routes are going to be eliminated or weekend service is going to be eliminated. We have to take a look at who is going to be impacted, who is more transit-dependent and where we can afford to basically reduce service and not necessarily eliminate service.''

But he also said: "I think we have other options (than service cuts). I don't necessarily want to rule out service reductions. But when that letter was written to the RTA, there was no set number in place (in terms of the RTA funding decrease). What was being discussed was a potential of $50 million.''

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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