Wednesday, April 13, 2005

High noon in transitland Wednesday at 10: Hamos may release her recommendation

Tomorrow (today) at 10 am the Mass Transit Committee is having a subject matter only hearing on the 1983 funding formula for how the saes tax is allocated to RTA, Pace, Metra and the CTA. It is possible and not unlikely that Chairwoman Julie Hamos will begin the 'solution' phase of the proceedings by releasing what she thinks a 2005 funding formula ought to look like. This has been the main beef of the CTA for at least two years so tomorrow could be a good day for the CTA. What I have heard buzzed around is that Pace would get all of paratransit which is basically door-to-door service for the disabled. We provide that service which is nice but very expensive. It is often essentially buying cab service for disabled people since they can not really work to pay for their own cab. Pace does a great job at paratransit and the CTA does a pretty crappy job so presumable that would be a win-win solution. Representative Kathy Ryg has done a ton of unheralded work on that paratransit issue as the subcommittee chair so if this goes through, she deserves some credit. However, that would end the Lipinski-Metra thought floated lasy year that Metra would simply absorb Pace and with it Pace's share of the sales tax funds. So to the extent Metra might prefer to absorb Pace, Metra might not like Pace becoming permanently relevant with all paratransit. Is it possible to revise the funding formula which is essentially a zero-sum game in a way that makes everybody better off? Let's hope so. We'll find out more in 8 hours or so (assuming I don't sleep through the committee hearing). And by the way, too bad poster Cal Skinner is no longer in the House. He would have added an intellectual and policy-oriented libertarian voice to the debate because I am sure he would have gotten on the committee.

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