CTA layoffs imminent

Over one thousand Chicago Transit Authority employees will receive layoff notices today as part of an initial implementation of the agency's worst-case contingency plan.

The CTA is facing a $110 million budget shortfall and is seeking a bailout from the state.

In a letter dated today and mailed to 1,094 employees, acting vice president of human resources Gia Morris said:  "In the event that the Illinois General Assembly does not provide CTA with sufficient funding to cover its budget shortfall... you will be laid off permanently effective September 17."

Chicago Transit Board Chairman Carole Brown said the agency is doing a better job of using its existing resources and working with its union to keep spending in check.

“But even with these savings and reforms, we still have a critical need for additional funding. Without it, we will be forced to reduce service and, as a result, institute layoffs,” Brown said in a press release.

The agency said it is continuing to lobby state legislators in Springfield for additional funding, which could forestall the cutbacks.

Those receiving layoff notices include 800 bus drivers, as well as support staff. It was not immediately clear how much those cuts would save the CTA.

A representative of the drivers' union was unavailable for comment.

The agency began reining in spending earlier this year in anticipation of a fiscal crunch. CTA chief Ron Huberman said he cut 75 positions, limited hiring and restricted non-critical overtime in May. Those measures put the agency’s costs for that month $4.1 million under budget.

But those cuts, Huberman said, will not be enough to avoid layoffs without additional state funding.

"I do not want to provide false hope with these results-- management efficiencies alone will not be enough to solve the CTA's financial problems," he said.

The layoffs come on the heels of previously announced service cuts and fare hikes will be put into effect starting in early September. Service will be suspended on 63 bus routes, the purple line express, and the yellow line. Additional cuts to bus service will mean 422 fewer buses and 68 fewer trains during rush hour.