The big news from last week's CTA board meeting was the approval of fees for the new Ventra fare-payment system going into effect this summer.
But the board last Wednesday also OK'ed an increase in the cost of the CTA U-Pass. The CTA contracts with 52 area colleges and universities to offer all students discounted rides for a semester. All enrolled students must buy the U-Pass, whether they intend to use it or not. The current price of 86 cents per day for unlimited rides will increase to $1.07, or about $15 per semester. The CTA notes that on a monthly basis, students will save a minimum of $66 per month over that full-fare price. So that's a good deal - if you use it.
This fall, the CTA also will expand the program to post-secondary, certificate-granting schools. Currently U-Pass has only been available to schools that award academic degrees.
Students also will participate in the new Ventra system. From the CTA news release:
As CTA transitions to its new Ventra fare payment system this summer, U-Pass program participants this fall will be issued Ventra cards that will replace current U-Pass fare media.
The transit cards will have each student’s name and photo, and will be available for the fall 2013 semester. The new card will be more durable and the only card students will need for transit at all times, even when school is out of session. Full fares will be deducted from the reloadable funds feature on the card when school is out of session.
Students will have the additional benefit of now being able to use their U-Pass on Pace. As a Ventra partner, Pace buses will accept the new U-Pass card and deduct regular Pace fares also beginning this fall.
The new contract is in place through the end of the summer term in 2018 for each participating school. The U-Pass program was created in 2000, when the Chicago Transit Board created the official program after a two-year pilot.