Who owes the city the big bucks?

It's no secret that the CTA is strapped for cash, but it appears the agency's employees are too.

About 1,300 CTA employees, who account for 13 percent of the CTA's workforce, owe money to the city, according to data released last month by the city. The tab? About $460,000.

It's been a year since Mayor Emanuel cracked down on city employee debt, which typically is made up of unpaid parking tickets and fines. The mayor told city department heads to make their employees pay their debt in full, get onto a payment plan or risk facing disciplinary action.

In that time, CTA employees collectively have reduced their debt 28 percent from $642,000. In October 2011, nearly 2,000 employees owed money to the city, representing about 19 percent of the CTA's workforce.

Still, the CTA has the highest percentage of city employees or workers in sister agencies who haven't paid their fines, according to city data.

The Chicago Park District comes in second with 4.1 percent of its employees, about 3,600 workers, owing $76,700.

Chicago Board of Education employees owe the most money--$748,000 among 3.6 percent of its 49,000 workers.

At the CTA, spokeswoman Tammy Chase said the agency encourages managers to stress to their workers the importance of paying debts, especially if traffic fines lead to a suspended driver's license.

CTA employees who lose driving privileges could be subject to discipline up to and including discharge, Chase said.

"What's more, the CTA fully cooperates with the city of Chicago, including allowing city personnel to monitor CTA parking lots to check for outstanding parking tickets and cooperating with city-imposed wage garnishments," Chase told Going Public.

Because the CTA is an agency separate from the city, it cannot legally garnish wages to pay for the debt, Chase said.

A Shore thing

Because of construction on Lake Shore Drive, starting this week, northbound Nos. 143, 144, 145, 146, 147 and 148 buses will be rerouted to Inner Lake Shore Drive between Oak Street and LaSalle Drive before resuming their normal route on Lake Shore Drive, the CTA said. This reroute is expected to last until Nov. 16.

Falling for CTA art

Oct. 10 is the deadline for submissions to create artwork for seven North Side Red Line stations undergoing rehabilitation. The CTA also is hosting an additional meeting about the project at 6 p.m. Oct. 23 at CTA headquarters, 567 W. Lake St. Go to for more information.

The CTA is hosting a meeting next week about its plans to overhaul Uptown's Wilson station, a three-time winner of Going Public's annual Crust Station contest that dishonors the most disgusting CTA stop. The meeting will be held 6-8 p.m., Oct. 11, at Harry S. Truman College, 1145 W. Wilson Ave.


A weekly dispatch from a CTA station of note

This week: Grand Blue Line

This Blue Line station in West Town is at the intersection of Grand and Milwaukee avenues and Halsted Street, so it sees a lot of bus traffic. Helpfully, the CTA has installed an electronic display on its westbound shelter on Grand Avenue that not only displays when the next bus is going to arrive but the next train as well. Unfortunately, not all points along that intersection are equipped with such important information. Some don't even have shelters. The station entrance on Halsted Street has a digital display outside the station, which is unusual because many digital displays are inside CTA stations and on platforms. What's more unusual is that Monday morning, the display was only showing ads, not bus or train arrival information. Wouldn't it be Grand if this station had consistent amenities?

Next up: Western Orange Line.

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