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Live reporting by Will Reynolds
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Hiring plans, ghost buses, criticism of CTA

Will Reynolds @willinois
Good morning! I'm live tweeting the Chicago Transit Board meeting, scheduled today at 9:30, for @CHIdocumenters #CHIdocumenters

09:29 AM Mar 8, 2023 CST

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@CHIdocumenters I'm watching remotely. Live video is here:…

Meeting agendas and other details:…
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They start with committee meetings before meeting as a full board.

The first committee approves eliminating a bus line, the 98 Avon Express. It was a recent discussion topic on reddit:…
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For the next committee, CTA Chief Financial Officer Jeremy Fine makes a financial report.
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CTA relies on natural gas. Two board members brag about increased revenue and ridership in January. No other questions or concerns.
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Next, a contract on "energy management services" to reduce costs for purchasing natural gas and diesel fuel. Jeremy Fine says it has been "very beneficial" for reducing costs of buying energy. They're helping move the bus fleet to electric. The firm is Shelton Solutions.
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The committees approve everything and adjourn.
Next is the full Chicago Transit board meeting. It starts with public comments.
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The first public speaker from talks about bus and train service cuts. Says blue line and other lines are getting worse, not better.
"President Carter and his team are playing you and the public for a fool."
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The board secretary loudly disrupts the speaker with one minute and 30 second time warnings. Then quickly announces "that's time" to cut off the speaker and starts playing music to stop the comment. Wow.
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CTA President Dorval Carter gives his report. The solution to service problems is hiring more staff. Responding to the public comment, he says they're using data he released. "I am not hiding this information or data."
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Carter continues. "We are currently hiring more bus operators than we're losing to attrition." Another hiring fair happens Friday. "CTA his hiring. We offer great pay and benefits... If you're looking for a job, we hope we will see you at our job fair this Friday."
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Carter says schedule adjustments will better align with how many buses and trains are running. Calls this increased reliability, but does not mean they're running more busses and trains.
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Carter describes new live streams of blue line train stations as a way to give real time information.…
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Carter: Workforce struggles are not unique to CTA. It's a common problem in transit and the private sector. "Everyone is trying to hire as quickly as possible."

Bus gaps are down, "showing continued progress."
He's "encouraged by annual ridership growth."
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Talking about unhoused CTA riders, they've contracted with two groups performing outreach work on the blue and red lines. "My goal is to continue to expand this outreach."
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CTA and PACE (the suburban bus system) began working together to both accept unlimited bus passes.

Carter concluding his update, "We place a very high premium on being transparent on every step we take."
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CTA President Carter repeatedly claimed during and since the pandemic that there were no service cuts. While that may be technically true by some narrow bureaucratic definition of "service cuts" it took public criticism to show major cuts in buses and trains running.
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Carter says they're now hiring more employees than they're losing. "Stabilizing the workforce is the foundation to everything else we're trying to do here."
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The board goes into closed executive session. They don't give a reason why other than citing a section of the open meetings act.
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It's striking how defensive Carter and the CTA board are to criticism. Safety and reliability have been major topics during the mayoral election.…
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Coming out of closed session, the board votes to sustain the discharge of a CTA employee. They vote to release closed session minutes of previous years to comply with the open meetings act.
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William Mooney gives a construction report.
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President Carter talks about using federal dollars and the RPM project for workforce opportunity programs and providing opportunities to disadvantage or historically marginalized businesses and workers.
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Carter shows a video. These projects provide job opportunities in the communities CTA serves.
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Carter speaks with pride about using the CTA construction project to provide jobs to disadvantaged communities and pledges to do a bigger presentation to the board.
He works to find contractors that qualify as Disadvantaged Business Enterprises.
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There's no discussion under new business. The Chicago Transit Board adjourns. This concludes my live tweeting for @CHIdocumenters