Train, express bus fares to jump to $3; hours, but not routes, cut in proposed budget

Tiny type buried in the back of today's Tribune tells of big fare hikes the CTA seeks early next year.

Train fares would increase 75 cents to $3, while most bus fares would
rise to $2.50. Express bus routes -- such as passenger-heavy runs along
Lake Shore Drive on the North Side -- also would cost $3.

All this news showed up in a legal notice in the back of the classified ad section.

Monthly passes would jump to $110 from $86, and popular "X" bus service
would be halted, including service on Western and Irving Park.  There
would be no bus routes cut, but service hours would be slashed.

See the notice of public hearing here.

None of this comes as a surprise to me -- except  cutting the "X" bus service. That's truly a step backwards.

Now, discuss among yourselves.

Comments

Leave a comment
  • Seems like a misprint or something! Can CTA make a decision like this and the Tribune not put more attention to it? Seems like last year CTA squirmed all over the place begging for government money just to keep from doing what they seem so ready to do this year - raise rates. Looks like I'll be dusting my bike off soon...

  • MarkW: The Tribune posted an article on the front page of its website, and on Chicago Breaking News this morning. At least it was a little more prompt than in the Pace case, where it took it 4 days after printing the notice. Given that CTA hasn't posted a Press Release, yet, this is quite an investigative coup for the Tribune (maybe sarcasm, maybe not). In any event, this is just a notice--the actual decision is made at the November Board meeting as to what to submit to the RTA.

    My points: This at least institutionalizes my previous points that layoffs will be coming and the cost of free rides will eventually be externalized. The fare hikes seem high enough to get a reaction at the public hearings.

  • I want to know if the monthly pass rate will rise. It already went from $75 to $86/month last year. Will that rise as well? It's going to be nearly $100/month. If it does go that high, I'm going to decrease my CTA monthly spend and not get the unlimited pass. I'll probably just do a pay per use...

  • Wow I just saw $110 for a monthly pass now. They are really screwing people.

  • $3 to ride the train / Bus?!?

    $3 to ride in a rolling trash can / porta potty (in the case of the trains)? are you serious?!

    At this rate, it's not much more to take a cab -- AND worth it not to deal with 'hobo corner' ... not deal with leave behinds from some idiot who had to eat a messy meal(or anything for that matter) on the train -- not get a latte splashed on my dry clean only office wear on the way to work ... push past people who can't be decent enough to let you off the train before they throw themselves into the crowd who can't move past the doors to let others into the car -- after all -- where they're getting off is *SO* MUCH more important than where you think you're going.

    Solicitors? HA! I've never encountered so much panhandling in my life as I've encountered on the Chicago trains -- where you cannot escape until the next stop ... and hope they don't follow you. No -- the CTA is Broken and their only solution is to throw more of OUR money at it.

    Time to move back to DC ... where you pay depending on how far you're going -- Their train announcements include one reminding people to let riders off the train before boarding - and NO Eating / drinking is **enforced** - and where there's NEVER EVER been a Hobo Corner on any of their cars.

  • If the 30-day pass seriously goes up that much, I'm not going to be able to afford it, and then I have no idea what I'll do. That's almost as much as I make in a week.

  • The raising of the sales tax was not to fix transit funding. They used property sales as funding.

  • In reply to chris:

    Only for the pension bonds. What do you think the rise from 1% to 1.25% was for?

  • In reply to chris:

    Kevin,

    Has anyone done a study on what the cost savings would be if we eliminated fares (and all the accomanying beurocracy) altogether? We have free public libraries and free public schools. I want free public transit. How much does it cost to collect fares (including the cost of maintaining all the fare taking equipment)? Does it get us close enough to start talking about the radical idea of raising taxes to make Chicago transit free for all riders? A girl can dream, right?

  • In reply to bssepanik:

    Many of us have proposed that over the years, but the employees that would lose their jobs & the fare collection industry all manage to kill even the slightest hint of that.

    And the fallout from this fare hike will mean even more crowded Metra trains to Rogers Park & Evanston.
    At least half the passengers now pile off some of the trains at Rogers Park ., as the fare is the same as the CTA & the service is way, way better!

  • In reply to bssepanik:

    How mush would they save if they rescinded the free rides for seniors? Most of the seniors I know would prefer to go back to the reduced fares.

  • In reply to bssepanik:

    Cheryl, I think the free rides program cost about $35 million. But don't hold your breath on that being rescinded. Remember, this is an election year, and seniors definitely are a powerful voting bloc that politicians do not want to anger.

  • In reply to bssepanik:

    http://www.transitchicago.com/news/default.aspx?Month=&Year=&Category=2&ArticleId=2482

    Looks like they are getting rid of the additional cost of paying with cash on a bus as well...

  • In reply to bssepanik:

    CTA will collect over $500M in fares in 2009, or 39% of its operating expenses. That's several times more than the entire turnstile system cost to buy new ($106M back in 1997), much less what the system costs to run. The accountants would be employed whether the money came in as cash or as taxes.

    @Gneila: $3 will soon buy you a one-block cab ride -- before the tip.

    And to anticipate the obvious question, rail/express bus fares are going higher because:
    1. their passengers are more willing to pay; those who want to save money but spend more time can ride local buses
    2. their trips are likely to be longer
    3. for express buses, their usage is highly focused on peak hours, when adding service is most expensive. Yes, it's counterintuitive, but CTA is not raking in cash during rush hour.

  • In reply to bssepanik:

    They have their priorities backwards. They should get rid of the 49 and the 80 instead of the X49 and the X80.

  • In reply to bssepanik:

    Barbara, as an operator myself, I would give anything to see CTA become a free transit system, the whining and hostility I have to put up with makes me miserable... But it'll never happen, Mayor Daley has too many friends and family that have at least 2 pockets each that need filling.

  • In reply to bssepanik:

    they could institute a rush hour charge. that way the people using it most - would pay. it's not rocket science ... wait...we're talking about the folk that run the CTA ... to them... anything that makes the most sense...IS rocket science.

  • In reply to bssepanik:

    Put plows on the buses and a salt spreader trailer behind.Then streets and san can pay part of the expenses.

  • In reply to JamesReyes:

    Interestingly, part of a private bus franchise usually was to plow the streets. See how things change once they are removed from the private sector?

  • In reply to jack:

    The CTA used to plow a number of streets that the buses & streetcars ran on. Material Service Company also plowed streets with plows attached to its concrete mixers in very heavy snowstorms. I remember both of those in the Blizzard of 67. For reasons unknown to the public, Daley Senior ended that.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    Public transit used to profitable and towards the end, break-even.... see what happens once they are removed from the private sector? Roads used to be in the hands of the private sector too... and if they were today we wouldn't have 14lane superhighways in the exurbs so that 50 people can drive their hummer 60 miles to and fro work everyday.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    the fare increase is a travesty at best, i find it ironic that the increase came on the downside of t he 2016 olymipc bid disaster! where is all the money that was set aside for the olympics, why isnt some of that money allocated to the CTA, and other chicago factions, also why are we paying for the downtown superstation thats isnt finished, @ a cost of $250,000,000 and $50mil in a moth account just for it being there!

  • In reply to jack:

    Personally .. I think if you hold office on the CTA / or work for the CTA ... (or any transit for that matter) it should be a part of the job ... TO RIDE THE PUBLIC TRANSIT regularly.

  • In reply to Brandierenae:

    I think most CTA employees do RIDE THE PUBLIC TRANSIT regularly, but I'm not sure what your point here is, do you believe that CTA employees riding the system more would in some way avoid a need to increase the fares?

  • In reply to Brandierenae:

    People can't afford to ride CTA as it is, as stated in some of these comments, yet we're going to charge people $3 one way? Wow..I'm glad that they know how to manage their money after all of that stimulus cash that they received (even if it wasn't a lot, they still were given money.) If I'm going to pay $110 for my monthly pass, which has monthly malfunctions by the way, I may as well just shave an hour off of my commute time and buy a car to commute. Would CTA prefer that its riders all canceled their monthly passes and somehow found other alternative ways to commute? Learn how to manage your money, CTA. You nauseate me.

  • In reply to Brandierenae:

    Here's where the CTA is going to start to lose ridership with the fare increases... there's a group of about 4 or 5 of us that routinely get together for the Bears game, dinner, to go out, etc. Right now, we take the train downtown and meet up at various train platforms along the way (Redline). So if you consider that 5 of us go out... each way as a group we'd be paying $15. So for a round trip (if we don't travel between stops to travel between activities once we're downtown or in the near north side), we're going to be paying about $30. 1/2 of the group owns cars because they work where public transporation really doesn't serve (north 'burbs). For $30 one of us will just pick up the rest and drive to where we're going. We're sure to be able to find parking for less than $30. If parking isn't available for a reasonable price (street (meter) or cheaper lot parking near where we want to go, we will go someplace where it is. So in the end, the CTA loses (the trains will be running regardless of whether or not we ride them and spend our $30), businesses where there's expensive parking will lose as people travel less, city businesses lose because as long as we're driving, we can go anywhere (especially where parking is free / cheaper) like Evanston, Skokie, Oak Park, etc.
    Its time for the CTA to get its costs under control. Reasonable salaries (union and non-union), 401k instead of defined benefit plans, shared healthcare costs, etc. Otherwise it'll be a march to a slow death. The only people that will ride frequently are those that get free rides or those that get the monthly ticket because they ride everyday for work (and who the CTA makes less on).

  • In reply to sniksich:

    It's really only a difference of $22.50 for your whole group to travel round trip vs. $30. I don't see why you'd all of a sudden drive because of that...

    Parking would eat up most of that, and a DUI after Bears game or "going out" definitely would as well.

  • In reply to sniksich:

    I wonder about the value of the air rights over the CTA lines. If those miles and miles of area could be used for wind turbines and solar panels, we could have a clean energy project that helps lead us towards an eventually free transit system. There is a whole lot of real estate there.

  • In reply to bssepanik:

    I've thought a similar thing in the past. Even if they used the rooftops of stations they could generate a lot of solar power. Maybe even put them on the tops of trains!

    Perhaps this will be cost feasible soon. Solar prices have dropped around 15% this year, and efficiencies are getting higher as well.

  • In reply to sniksich:

    Why doesn't the CTA look at zone fares. Why should someone pay full fare to stand packed like a sardine, while another rider pays the same fare and has a seat?

  • In reply to OrangeLiner:

    Zone fares are feasible, but how do you plan to charge someone for sitting rather than standing?

  • In reply to chris:

    I didn't suggest a charge for sitting v standing. It is more likely, though, that the earlier you are on the train the more likely it is you'll have a seat. So zone fares sort of cover the concept.

  • In reply to chris:

    I didn't suggest a charge for sitting v standing. It is more likely, though, that the earlier you are on the train the more likely it is you'll have a seat. So zone fares sort of cover the concept.

  • In reply to chris:

    I didn't suggest a charge for sitting v standing. It is more likely, though, that the earlier you are on the train the more likely it is you'll have a seat. So zone fares sort of cover the concept.

  • In reply to Brandierenae:

    Has anyone done a study on what the cost savings would be if we eliminated fares (and all the accomanying beurocracy) altogether? We have free public libraries and free public schools. I want free public transit.
    -----------------------------
    Nothing is free girl. The works don't build buses for free. The steel industry doesn't build the steel for the bus for free. The drive doesn't work for free. The oil companies don't give fuel away. Someone has to pay. Its how to pay that is at play. Free Transit for anyone means higher taxes or fees every day. Real estate tax bills are an eye opener. Schools aren't free... just look. If you rent its included in your rent payment.

  • In reply to sniksich:

    I think this is precisely the point. It's important to take apart the notion that riders of mass transit are the only ones that benefit from it, and that they should, therefore, pick up the slack. Drivers should pay a congestion charge to fund mass transit, precisely because better, low-cost mass transit is good for drivers by taking some percentage of cars off the road. In that sense, it's exactly like public schools. While the children enrolled in public school (and their parents) directly benefit from "free school" (which is no more "free" than the costs of transit you cite above), the whole society benefits from an educated population. Even parents that opt for private school still wind up paying for the public good of a public education system, and they still benefit from reducing the number of unemployable people in the world.

  • In reply to JamesReyes:

    I've read quite a few comments about this and there is the main matter of how the CTA is funded and what that says about the priorities if the state and city. I do not know that there is anything we can do about that, mostly because the state has no real reason to alter the way it funds public transportation amidst its own fiscal worries. It seems that Americans do not want to pay for the government they want. It only seems that way because there is so much waste in government spending and it rarely looks to correct the waste, and even less the almost fraudulent way that contracts are paid and awarded.

    It is easy to blame unions for the plight of much government spending, but that is not necessarily the correct conclusion to come to, although I would not be against reforms in pensions and the way we care for the elderly in our communities. But that is only part of the fiscal pie we are running out of.

    It seems everyone is against fraud and waste, at least until they get their cut, then it ain't so bad.

    The thing is, I don't know what the CTA is working with, a pie chart does not explain to me why the labor budget is as high as it is, it only tells me that it is high. I do not know if the route supervisors on the street are doing a good job because I have no idea what their job entails. I could not reccommend service changes because I do not know what the current level of service is supposed to be or what it is.

    I know that the CTA fails miserably at providing a safe and clean experience that would make publiv transportation a preference over driving, especially on the South and West Sides of the city. I know that the bus tracker is a great service, one that should be available inside the train stations as well. Also it would be nice if the buses were scheduled so that they do not have to crawl through empty streets because no one is on them.

    I know I am tired of hearing them cry about money and have such disrespect the people who pay them. I do not think that public transportation is anywhere near the priority for the government (federal state and local) that it should be (I've never seen them on the bus). The government looks more and more like a commoditized mortgage backed security scam where accountability is sliced, diced and aggregated so that no one is accountable at any level for anything. One very telling thing is that almost none of the people who work for the CTA use it. Neither do any of our legislative representatives, so why should they care?

  • In reply to bssepanik:

    Have they ever done anything about selling carbon offset credits?

  • In reply to bssepanik:

    Repeat after me: CONGESTION PRICING.

  • In reply to chris:

    Instead of eliminating service, the CTA should seriously start thinking of eliminating service that duplicates service with Pace and get rid of low ridership routes. Instead of eliminating the X routes all together why not just reduce their frequency?

  • In reply to chris:

    It is as if $2.25 isn't enough.

  • Well, I don't understand how these changes would cause the monthly fare to increase by $24. That seems excessive.

    They need to increase efficiencies, like eliminating bus stops along with any cuts they are making.

    I don't think most of these proposals will happen. Slashing service hours on some routes is dumb, as well as getting rid of the X routes. Let's hope people are riled up enough about this to stop it. Plus, if they start charging this much more, people will have higher expectations of the service. More cleanliness, timeliness, etc.

  • I'm okay with a fare hike as PART of supporting the CTA, but we need to look at the balance of subsidizing car traffic with all these roads we build, maintain, and plow, versus the much larger bang-for-buck we get with public transportation. All our legislative bodies need to do is shift money from our ubiquitous road system to create an equally strong public transportation system. A fare hike might be needed but it shouldn't be the only answer. We've subsidized cars far too much for far too long.

  • The number of free riders, is ridiculous. I'm an operator, and I'll tell you, there are days on certain routes at certain times, where I swear I didn't collect enough money in the farebox to pay the fuel used by my bus that day. It's just free rider, after free rider. Seniors, circuit permits, it's amazing just how many people are riding for free. Make them pay something, even if it's a reduced, reduced fare, it's not fair that some people's fare keeps rising, while others keep riding free.

Leave a comment