Comparing the Chicago Transit Authority to "a brother that you can't control," Kane County Board member Bill Wyatt railed on the agency for bleeding funds at the expense of its suburban "siblings," Metra and Pace.
"People in the suburbs, in my opinion, need to know that Pace is not the problem. Metra is not the problem. The problem's in the city of Chicago," Wyatt, an Aurora Republican, said at Tuesday's Kane County Board meeting.
Wyatt's comments came after representatives of Metra commuter rail and Pace suburban bus described the fare hikes and service cuts that would be implemented unless state funding comes through.
In Kane County, 21 Pace routes will be partially or totally eliminated starting Jan. 1 unless lawmakers approve a bailout. That includes one popular weekday route along Randall Road that serves 409 riders daily.
More than 80 people --mostly senior citizens and people with disabilities --packed a July hearing in Geneva to protest the proposed service cuts and fare hikes. Eliminating routes is going to disproportionately affect seniors, the disabled and the working poor, county board members lamented.
Metra officials are debating a fare hike ranging from 5 percent to 10 percent and the elimination of Sunday service. Those changes also would begin Jan. 1. Twelve million Metra trips are generated each year in Kane County.
"What we are talking about now is draconian," Metra Executive Director Phil Pagano said. "We need your support."