Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has been called Mayor 1% due to his willingness to meet with business investors over community members and for the privatization of public education by promoting charters as choice. Not to say all those things aren't bad, but he really showed his 1% colors (chartreuse and some other fancy sounding color) when in response to the CTA price hikes, he suggested Chicagoans "can choose to drive."
Despite his love for Chicago and his desire to make it a world-class city, that comment proves his North Shore roots are ever present in his idea of how people commute into the Loop. Isn't he an avid fan of the Brown line? Has he ever walked downtown and seen the prices for parking? With the money I have left over at the end of the week, I can afford an hour of parking, tops.
One of my favorite things he said is that at least the base fare stayed the same, which is more than you can say for gas. Does he know how public transportation works? It's supposed to be cheaper than owning a car not on par. That's why people use it, either by choice or necessity.
Maybe he's too focused on the 'hoards' of tourists flooding Chicago streets, that he forgot about the regular Chicagoan who needs to have a reasonably priced weekly pass to get to his or her job in the Loop from the far south side or far north side. The opportunity for jobs in those areas aren't exactly popping. So, jobs that are of walking distance are completely out of the question for most Chicagoans.
He also forgot that the reason people got the passes was because they turned out cheaper than just paying base fare whenever they needed to get somewhere. It's $5.00 to get to one place and back home, and three day passes were $14, cheaper than the $15.00 otherwise spent with base fares. The same can be said about the other prepaid fare cards. Chances are if you are commuting in to the Loop via public transportation, you are probably using public transportation to get yourself other places as well. So, the $5 a day rule most likely doesn't apply to many Chicagoans using transportation; two places in one day is $10, three is $15, fare for four places is $20, etc.
I'm lucky enough to be in a position where I am earning cash (even if it is only temporary) after being unemployed for a very long time. During my time as unemployed (where I'll be at again end of January/early February), I was on a very tight budget between paying for my trips to interviews and 'trying' to pay my bills. I barely had extra money to spare to do any recreational activities or errands, and I have no car so the CTA was and is my only option to get anywhere. I'm still on a tight budget, and it's only going to get tighter for me and other Chicagoans like me with the upcoming fare hike. I'm sure companies are going to come flocking to a city where people can't afford to get to their jobs at the new office in downtown Chicago or anywhere else. (There go my job prospects.)
Also, if driving is such a great option: Why weren't people driving before? Here's five reasons off the top of my head. Firstly, Chicago is too big to bike. I'd pass out from dehydration every day if I biked downtown from where I live. Secondly, public transportation is supposed to be cheaper than regular transportation, why else would people opt out of a quicker way of getting downtown? Thirdly, maintaining a car is too expensive. It's not just gas. It's also insurance and maintenance. Fourthly, Chicago is too cold to bike. I'd dehydrate and freeze on my way to work. Lastly, public transportation is not just cheaper. It's also cleaner and better for the environment. How much more carbon is going to be in our atmosphere because of public transportation fare increases?
Is this fair hike just a way that Rahm can get the train system privatized? "If we make it run so badly under a public institution, then people will jump at the chance for private interests to take over!" said the Mayor quietly to himself. Maybe Rahm should stop shaking so many people's hands on CTA train stations for photos and actually ask them how they feel about this huge hike in prices. I hope his reaction looks a little like this image below.
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