Mayor Rahm Emanuel today dismissed a state task force report that called for one mega mass transit agency combining the CTA, Metra and PACE as written by "propeller heads."
The characterization came today when the mayor was asked if the single transit agency is a good idea.
“No, and in capital letters. Let me just be really clear: This is what happens when you lock up a lot of propeller heads in a room for a short period of time. First they say we have an unaccountable, nameless, faceless bureaucracy. Hold on, we’d like to replace it with the new version of a unaccountable, nameless, faceless bureaucracy," Emanuel said after today's City Council meeting.
“I’ve had my views on the importance of being a propeller head. I think I’ve given you my views of that. It is a non starter with this," the mayor added.
The report from a 15-member task force that was created in the aftermath of last summer's Metra scandal proposed numerous changes to address the chronic governance, funding and rivalry problems that have beset the area's transit agencies.
The panel's most far-reaching recommendation is creation of a new superagency to oversee the entire six-county area and replace the existing Regional Transportation Authority, along with the boards of the CTA, Metra and Pace.
Under this plan, those agencies would be reduced to "operating units" under an integrated agency with a single board. It would amount to the biggest change in the Chicago area's bus and train system in 30 years, when the current governance structure was created.
Steve Schlickman, a former RTA executive director, said it was unlikely that the General Assembly would act on such a controversial change anytime soon. Only when the legislature has been in "crisis mode" regarding transit funding have lawmakers addressed structural problems and representation, said Schlickman, head of the Urban Transportation Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
"That's the nature of the beast in Springfield," he said.