Park-and-ride rates doubled from $1.50 to $3 for Forest Park and Rosemont on Jan. 17, 2005. For lots in Chicago, they rose to $2.
Officials from Forest Park confirmed they received a letter dated Jan. 12, 2005, informing them of the changes. They said that by the time they received it, the rate hike would go into effect in only two days.
Following the almost-late letter CTA Chairman Carole Brown sent a memo criticizing the management team for their lack of communication, emphasizing the CTA’s inability to contact local municipalities in a timely manner about the price hikes for the park-and-ride initiative.
The memo was sent to 28 e-mail addresses and co-signed by CTA President Frank Kruesi, spokesman Greg Longhini said. He added that the officials targeted in the memo were those who hold the rank of vice-president.
Local activists said the memo is long overdue and not far-reaching enough.
Gary Mack, a spokesman for the village of Rosemont, said communication with CTA was not as good as the village would have liked.
“We knew they intended to raise rates, but not when,” Mack said.
The village requested additional time to alert riders of the change, but was only given two more days.
CTA Board members, including Kruesi, said at the last board meeting they were concerned about the legality of raising rates in the suburbs.
“With respect to areas outside of the city, staff is having conversations with those jurisdictions,” said Dennis Anosike, a CTA vice president.
John Paul Jones, a spokesman for the Campaign for Better Transit, said it was unclear what was going on from the November Board Meeting, when they voted to raise rates.
“They gave no clear notice at all to the public,” he said of the increase.
Jones and others, however, said they do not feel that Brown should completely remove herself or other high-ranking officials from blame, as they are a part of the process.
“Apparently she’s also trying to cover herself about that administrative mishap,” Jones said.
Leo McCord, of the Lake Human Organizing Committee in Chicago, said he would like to see Kruesi shoulder some of the blame as well.
“If this was a sports franchise, he would have been given his walking papers,” he said. “You have to accept some of the responsibility for what your staff does.”
Brown has reportedly threatened to put together a management team that can better accomplish the CTA’s goals if problems continue. The managers are not represented by any union.
Representatives from the chairman’s office were not available for comment.