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Audit calls for changes in finances, leadership, structure of RTA

Friday, February 23, 2007
Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO -- A state audit of the Regional Transportation Authority shows the mass transit agency is fraught with problems including financial difficulties, duplicated services and poor leadership, according to a published report.

The audit, obtained by the Chicago Tribune, was performed by Illinois Auditor General William Holland.

It points out specific problems and makes recommendations for the Chicago Transit Authority, Metra commuter rail and Pace suburban bus, which the RTA oversees.

"The RTA needs to take more of a leadership role in all aspects of transit," the audit said.

According to the report, some of the issues in the CTA include absenteeism, high salaries and benefits and underfunded employee pensions.

Absenteeism costs the CTA about $46 million annually and its retirement plan is in "extremely poor financial condition and is deteriorating at a rapid rate," according to the report.

Also, CTA and Pace compete for bus riders on some routes.

Metra, according to the audit, has not been up-to-date in reporting its ridership levels and on-time performance records online.

The audit recommends changes including restructuring how the RTA appoints its 13-member board and re-examining its expansion plans.

Diane Palmer, a spokeswoman for the RTA, said Friday the agency is not commenting on the audit "because it's not final at this point. We do not have a copy of the final report."

The audit is considered a draft, and RTA has until Thursday to respond in writing.

Holland is expected to issue a final report next month.



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