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CTA May Have Committed $150M Mileage Fraud, Watchdog Group Claims

By DNAinfo Staff on October 18, 2012 3:51pm

 The CTA was accused by a watchdog group of inflating its mileage.
The CTA was accused by a watchdog group of inflating its mileage.
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DNAinfo/Patty Wetli

CHICAGO — The Chicago Transit Authority may have amassed as much as $150 million in additional federal funds by over-reporting its mileage records as far back as 1982, according to a watchdog report released Thursday.

Washington, D.C.-based Cause of Action studied a 2007 audit report of the agency that resulted in the CTA receiving between $1 million to $5 million in extra grant funding, according to the report titled "Bus Tour of Chicago-Style Fraud." The $150 million estimated windfall over three decades is based on that single audit.

Calvin L. Scovel, the Department of Transportation inspector general, and the U.S. House of Representatives were informed of potential fraud found in the audit both in 2009 and 2011, but no federal investigations took place, according to Cause of Action's report.

"As long as present circumstances persist, CTA will likely continue receiving a greater portion of transit dollars than that to which it is entitled, to the detriment of other transit systems in large cities throughout the country," according to the report.

CTA spokesman Brian Steele said that the agency followed Federal Transit Administration guidelines for reporting mileage, up to last year when rules changed.

"The CTA has always followed the federal guidelines for reporting transit data," Steele said. "Every year the FTA has verified that the CTA has accurately done so."

Prior to the 2011 change in rules, the CTA included travel between garages to the start of routes because bus drivers must accept passengers who flag down the bus along the way, CTA spokesman Brian Steele said. The FTA revised its rules to no longer allow reporting such travel, but did not require the CTA to revise its previous reports, Steele said.