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Illinois Public Transit In Financial Trouble

Story by WBGZ Radio

The first downstate mass transit district closed its doors over the weekend, as the buses in Jacksonville, Illinois, stopped running, and dozens of others said they may close as well if they don't receive more state money soon.

However, there simply isn't any money to send their way.

Illinois Public Transit Association Chairman Andrew Johnson said downstate mass transit districts rely on state government for two-thirds of their operating budgets, which puts them at the mercy of state government.

"There isn't really a public transit system that is self-sufficient," Johnson said. "There are some that cover their operating costs more than others."

Johnson said downstate bus systems don't have enough passengers and can't charge high-enough fares to cover their costs.

State Rep. C.D. Davidsmeyer, R-Jacksonville, said buses are now on the list of those hurt by the General Assembly’s fiscal ineptitude.

"It's not that the buses are being funded because there's no budget for it," Davidsmeyer said. "This isn't being funded because there's no money in the bank."

The state owes 53 downstate mass transit districts about $150 million.

The Illinois Comptroller's office has said October and November are very lean months for tax collections. The comptroller's office also said illinois has a nearly $7 billion backlog of other unpaid bills.

Davidsmeyer said years of political promises from Springfield are finally coming due, and there's no money to pay for them.

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