When the Regional Transportation Authority referendum passed, there was a subsidy assumed.
I remember that is was about $60 million a year.
That number came from a formula.
It was some small percentage of the sales tax collected in the six-county area.
It was estimated to bring in about $60 million a year and, in its first, year that was the approximate revenue to state government.
But, the money did not come exclusively out of the six-county area because it came off the top, so to speak, of the General Revenue Fund.
Those of us who had fought the RTA referendum (which passed by less than 13,000 vote with no recount allowed) figured out the cost per county by prorating the annual subsidy by population.
A senior citizen from Woodstock, a former teacher who lived right behind the old high school, sent the figures to senior citizen organizations all over the state.
I sent out press releases with the same message:
Everyone in Illinois was subsidizing Chicago’s mass transit, not just sales taxpayers in the metropolitan Chicago area.
Every year during the appropriations debate, I got time to attack the RTA.
I remember one year I took out after the extension of the Chicago Transit Authority to O’Hare Airport.
The CTA had argued that it was needed to get airline passengers to and from the airport.
But, I pointed out in debate, the design of the CTA cars to be used had no place for suitcases.
I pointed out that the argument being used could not be the real reason for the proposed extension.
If one looks at a railroad map, one can see a spur running from the Northwestern Railroad’s Northwest Line to and through O’Hare to a location on the Milwaukee Road’s West Line.
Why couldn’t switches be build where the lines intersected?
Trains could run in both directions, if the number of passengers merited that.
That, I figured would cost less than the CTA proposal.
Facetiously, I argued the only reason the CTA wanted to build its line to O’Hare was because Chicagoans wouldn’t be able to figure out how to transfer from the CTA to the railroad lines.
Presenting the underbelly of the CTA and RTA during those debates was a lot of fun during the 1970’s.
Then, one year a bill appeared to eliminate the RTA subsidy from the appropriations process.
It passed, naturally over my opposition, and legislative floor criticism of mass transportation disappeared from the House floor.
I would argue that the state legislature should have the opportunity to decide how much goes to subsidize mass transit every year.