The CTA has cut 29 percent of its mechanics in the last 13 years, and the union claims those cuts means unsafe buses are on the roads.
"There's not enough people to do the job," said Dan Hrycyk, financial secretary-treasurer for the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 241. Union representatives said buses are put into service with bad brakes and power-steering problems. "Buses that shouldn't be going out ... they will send out," Hrycyk said.
But CTA management said the transit agency can get by with fewer mechanics because newer buses break down less frequently, and because the system of repairing buses has become more efficient and more focused on prevention. The CTA also denied unsafe buses are sent out.
"Our buses are breaking down less," said CTA President Ron Huberman. "We're just being smarter about how we do maintenance."
The CTA is cutting another 29 mechanic positions in the 2009 budget, down to 462 spots, as part of the 600 jobs eliminated this year and next due to a budget shortfall. The agency is also hiking fares Jan. 1.