Proposed Metra fare hike sets bar for CTA increase at about 25%

Now that Metra has proposed an average fare increase in 2012 of almost 30%, the CTA would look good by comparison if it suggests a 25% increase to avoid red ink next year.

CTA last raised its fare in 2009. Bus fares went up by 25 cents, and 25 or 50 cents for rail fares, depending on whether you used a Chicago Card or transit card.

A 25% increase would take rail fares to more than $2.80, and bus fares to $2.50. The question is whether that would be enough.

CTA President Forrest Claypool has been tight-lipped about the projected deficit to make up in the CTA budget for next year, so it's hard to tell whether a 25% increase would be enough. But he will probably have to release his budget proposal at the October board meeting, set for Oct. 13.  Then there will be public hearings later in October. The board may vote on the budget - and any proposed fare increase - at the Nov. 9 meeting.

And remember, as far as I know, negotiations on new union contracts have not yet begun. So it seems there is plenty to sort out before the budget and possible fare hikes are announced.


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  • It might be notable that Metra has already tipped its hand. Also Pace sent out a release (also by e-mail) indicating that everything is financially hunky-dory there. You can guess that I don't tend to believe that.

    There is a schedule on when the RTA and the service boards are supposed to exchange information. In that the other two boards have already tipped their hands, are we to believe that Claypool is that far behind the curve? Maybe so, or maybe they know that unlike Metra, they are going to get a stink.

    But if Pace isn't fooling us, CTA would sure look bad compared to them. Maybe that will cut back the service overlap problem if people figure out that, say on South Halsted, they can get a Pace bus for $1.75, as opposed to $2.50 for a CTA one. Of course, it won't matter if they have to transfer to the L.

  • Metra's fare increase is averaged out to 30%.
    But the Zone B fares are going up in the 68% range.
    Right now a Zone B 10 ride to downtown is $18.50, which makes the rides 40¢ cheaper than the CTA & a hell of a lot faster. 18 minutes to the Loop on Metra from Rogers Park vs. 40 or more on the Red Line. I believe the proposed Zone B 10 cost will jump to $32.50.
    Zone B stations are those within the city limits.
    I get the feeling Metra wants to cut the numbers at Ravenswood & Rogers Park. The trains run half empty north of Rogers Park in the rush hours.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    That seems supported by the September Board Presentation at page 31 of the pdf. The "after" line of the graphs seems much more lineal than the "before line." It also seems to rise a bit more in the outer zones, which would make sense, since the Auditor General said that passengers past Zone E were underpaying.

    Metra had previously said that the AB differential was low because otherwise people wouldn't make the trip (presumably would use CTA instead).

    There might be a point to that. Ravenswood and Rogers Park got more service when Carole Brown asked for it as an alternative to the Brown Line. Now, that isn't necessary.

    The more interesting effect would be on the Metra Electric Line, where, if you assume that a 10 ride is equivalent to a CTA 7 day pass (although it only is if one uses it for commuting), the AB one is $20.00 (you cited the current AA one) and CTA is $23.00. Maybe somewhat more comparable is the Metra monthly of $63.45 compared to the CTA monthly of $86.00. Now, the CTA pass provides a more extensive network, but advantage is not being taken of South Siders if they can commute to the Loop via the ME for $23 less a month than on the CTA.

    We certainly will have to see what the new comparative fares will be, and if, for instance, it kills off whatever ridership remains on the ME trains that primarily stop in the city.

    Finally, it looks like someone at Metra learned how to use Powerpoint, while CTA management has lost that skill.

  • I'll separately post (since ChicagoNow seems to throw out messages with more than one link) that the current fare structure is in the schedule pamphlets, such as this one.

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