Smoke and the smell of burnt metal filled the Chicago blue line subway at the Division stop Friday afternoon. Not only that, but the operator stopped 15 minutes before moving toward the Chicago stop and inching further toward the loop.
I felt sorry for the train that was behind us, having to wait in the metal coffin, doors closed, until the cars moved on.
All this as the state legislature is deciding against any increased funding to the Chicago Transit Authority in next year's budget. Talk, meanwhile, of increased $2.50-$3.00 fares in the near future has some residents rejecting the CTA altogether, choosing to pay $3.50 per gallon in gas and $15 per hour for parking downtown.
Doesn't seem to make much sense to me, either way.
New York City Transit continues to charge $2.00 per ride, though living in New York requires a %24.29 increase in income to maintain the same standard of living as in Chicago, according to bankrate.com.
CTA President Ron Huberman is pleased that the legislature didn't approve the $100 million needed to balance the Transit Authority budget, preferring to hold off for a more long-term solution, reports the Chicago Tribune. This puts him in a rather precarious position as the legislature doesn't appear to be interested in long-term CTA funding, much less creating a needed state budget without $200 million in pork spending.
All this as Gov. Rod Blagojevich threatens to veto any increase on sales tax to pay for CTA renovations, and Mayor Daley earlier this year didn't support a toll for automobiles driving to the Chicago loop.
Also in the Tribune today was London mayor Ken Livingstone, who plans a daily $50 tax for bringing SUVs downtown London. That's up from a congestion zone tax of $16 for cars between 7:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.
Livingstone refers to the SUV's as "Chelsea Tractors" and their drivers as "complete idiots."
Of course, traveling in their version of the subway can range from $12-24, depending on the trip.
Suddenly, paying up to $2.50 in Chicago doesn't seem that bad... But we can do better if New York can. Paying more to ride through toxic fumes doesn't seem appealing, either.