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Had Enough?

By Scott Smith in News on Dec 13, 2006 6:08PM

For CTA President Frank Kruesi, yesterday was a bad day at the office.

2006_12_derailed.jpgAs if the problems affecting the downtown Loop trains and the southbound Red Line weren’t bad enough, yesterday was the monthly CTA board meeting, and the management team at the agency got a bit of an ass-handing-to.

At issue was a life insurance policy for 11,000 CTA employees and retirees that is set to expire in 18 days. The policy was presented to the board by CTA management on Monday, and its members were expected to vote on the policy yesterday without giving it a thorough review. If they hadn’t voted to accept it, those 11,000 folks would be sans life insurance.

While board members later said the policy is a “good deal” and any lack of life insurance would probably have been temporary, ABC-7 connects the dots between this latest incident and the “careless” (to use CTA board chair Carole Brown’s word) mismanagement at the agency over the past year.

No Brown Line permits? Poor communication with riders during the Blue Line fire? Illegal demolition of historical architecture? A reasonable person could argue that laying blame at Kruesi’s feet for yesterday’s routing problems, funding issues, slow zones, and questionable capital spending is unfair. But the agency frequently demonstrates a lack of basic, short-term managerial skills.

When asked why the policy was just now being brought up for review, Kruesi said, "I'm going to have to find out specifics about what happened here.” Wait … you don’t know? We’ll give Kruesi the benefit of the doubt and say he does know why it happened, but the answer isn’t anything he wants in the press. But not having an answer makes him look like he either doesn’t know or doesn’t care.

Let’s put it this way: things are so bad now that the CTA is patting itself on the back when nothing goes wrong. As Brown says in the ABC-7 piece, “what we have to do is set standards for our professionals and when they don’t meet those standards, get new professionals.”

Speaking of, our Frank Kruesi Dead Pool is still running. Leave your guess as to when the CTA President gets kicked upstairs in the comments here.

Also at the board meeting: the plan for express train service to the airport (from the CTA superstation that no one asked for) is on hold, the trial period for the West Side rail and bus improvements has been extended and it’s unlikely that an aldermanic plan to put conductors back on trains will happen.