When the Chicago Transit Authority announced its latest and greatest outrage - slowdowns on the Red, Brown and Purple lines that will double the commute times of homebound riders for a two and a half year period - the general reaction was that of Chicago Magazine business correspondent David Greising on a week ago Chicago Week in Review on WTTW: shrug your shoulders and predict the response of CTA riders will be to do nothing, because "What choice do they have?"
Now, a brilliant analysis by the indispensable Greg Hinz in Crain's Chicago Business lays out in compelling detail how the current meltdown in CTA service is a matter not just of aging infrastructure and chronic underfunding, but of a willful incompetence on the part of President Frank Kreusi and CTA management that consistently neglected basic maintenance in favor of splashy, expensive and often questionable mega-projects like a $130,000,000 station under Block 37 for an express service to the city's airports that does not exist.
In Kreusi's typically cynical fashion, the service cutbacks that will decimate the number of trains and make the P.M. commute for hundreds of thousands of riders a living hell have been put off until April. Kreusi is no doubt remembering how, after a massive 1979 snowstorm, the breakdown of the CTA and decision to run trains express, bypassing blacks waiting on the platforms of inner city stations, ended with the stunning and unprecedented defeat of machine Democratic mayor Michael Bilandic. 2007 is also an election year, and Kreusi's scheduling protects this year's incumbents - mayoral and alderman - from being held accountable when the full force of his failed management hits the fan.
Greg Hinz's intensive research and cogent analysis means it won't be quite so easy to sweep it all under the rug. Read it here.