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It’s not all doom and gloom at the CTA and Metra as the two transit authorities meet with Illinois governor Bruce Rauner to discuss the next step in their merger.
There’s a chance that the agencies could keep the two separate — or even combine them, officials say.
Rauner said late Thursday that the CTA’s board should hold off making a final decision on a merger or an alternative to it, such as a split. “Right now they need to focus their energies on a merger,” he said during a press conference.
Metra was slated to vote on a merger last month. It met its two-year deadline in the form of a consent decree approved by state lawmakers. While the consent decree does require the agencies to meet more frequently and make more improvements, it did NOT involve a merger. There appeared to be considerable confusion as to whether the merger had been approved. On Thursday, Rauner’s press secretary Michael Levenson confirmed that the governor and state legislators approved a merger but he did not give details.
CTA Board Chairman Forrest Claypool on Thursday said that the board still had not voted on whether to keep the system separate or split it up.
But Levenson said that the board was working on that and will present a formal report to Rauner later Thursday. He did not answer whether the consent decree has been approved by the board or the General Assembly.
The Illinois Department of Transportation is currently negotiating with the CTA over a proposal to allow for the transfer of certain CTA employees to Metra for up to three years, according to documents obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times. The CTA wants to use the new employees to staff the new Metra system, which would help lower costs.
In October, it took the Board six months to approve the two plans, which were developed by the Illinois Policy Institute and the Illinois Transit Policy and Research Center (ITSCRC), respectively. It took the state six months to take action on the proposed merger. Metra leaders have repeatedly said that all sides are moving slowly and meeting regularly.
Metra officials and Rauner met in the governor’s office the day before the meeting for about an hour and said the governors were keen on the issues at hand – namely, merging the two transit systems into one entity and reducing service. Metra chief executive Bob Diamond said that there will be a
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