State Sen. Jeff Schoenberg of Evanston says the state should fold the suburban bus agency Pace into the Chicago Transit Authority.
Sen. Jeff Schoenberg.
"If I were king," Schoenberg told a breakout session at the Evanston Chamber of Commerce Legislative Breakfast this morning, "I would get rid of Pace."
He said that working in his office at 820 Davis St. he can watch CTA and Pace buses pull up outside the Davis Street CTA station within minutes of each other.
"It’s insane," Schoenbers said. "We have to shut that down."
"We need to squeeze every bit of inefficiency out of the transit system, and I think Pace is superfluous."
"The state provides resources for all these transit agencies" — the CTA, Metra, Pace and the RTA, Schoenberg said, "and we have to hold them accountable for spending the money better — and for ethical behavior."
He added that for the CTA to take over the services now provided by Pace would require a new, equitable governance structure for the CTA that would give the suburbs an active and strong voice.
Shoenberg suggested that the CTA should be agreeable to that because the suburbs are increasingly providing the revenue to assure the economic health of the system, because the suburbs are where the ridership growth is.
Schoenberg said it’s unconscionable that the people who were on the Metra board "during all the years that Phil Pagano abused the system" haven’t resigned.
Pagano, Metra’s long-time executive director, killed himself by stepping in front of a Metra train last year after he was discovered to have stolen more than a half million dollars from the agency.
"We threw out the whole board at the University of Illinois because officials were ‘clouting’ people into the school," Schoenberg added. Given the degree of corruption shown at Metra, "we can’t continue with the same leadership team there."
On other transit issues, Schoenberg said he’s been assured by the governors office that the CTA will receive funding this year to replace two of the aging Purple Line viaducts in Evanston. "I get regular status updates about that."
Asked about the lack of handicap accessibility at the Purple Line stations serving the city’s two hospitals and Northwestern University, Schoenberg said, "We need to reach out to those major institutions and have them be part of the discussion," on how to solve that, "and I’d expect that discussion to include their financial participation to make it happen sooner."