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CTA’s Proposed Budget Includes 25-Cent Fare Hike, No Cuts to Service Hours, Frequency

CTA president Dorval Carter announced the fare hikes this afternoon at the CTA headquarters, flanked by a chart that shows that most other major U.S. transit systems currently have higher fares. Photo: CTA

Welp, we can’t say it came as a surprise. A November 8 letter from the Regional Transit Authority to the CTA warned that the transit agency needed to raise fares to plug a $33 million budget hole, the result of last summer’s state budget deal, or else face massive service cuts. Today the CTA announced that it plans to do just that, bumping up the price of bus and rail rides by a quarter, and raising the price of a 30-day pass by $5.

Personally, I suspect that the purpose of the RTA memo may have been to give Mayor Rahm Emanuel political cover for this unpopular move. It’s also worth noting that CTA president Dorval Carter announced the bad news on the afternoon before Thanksgiving, when many residents are traveling and are therefore less likely to read about it. The good news is that, as previously promised by Emanuel, the 2018 CTA budget doesn’t include any cuts to service hours or frequency.

The proposed $1.51 billion operating budget hikes the base (undiscounted) fare for bus rides from $2 to $2.25, and the price of ‘L’ trips from $2.25 to $2.50. The CTA notes that this is well below the rate of inflation since the current fare was established in 2009, and that all other major U.S. transit agencies have raised their fares during this time.

Reduced-fare rides for people with disabilities and members of the military are required by law to be 50 percent of the regular fare, so these will go up by 10-15 cents. Student fares will remain the same at 75 cents for bus and rail trips.

The price of a 30-day pass will be raised from $100 to $105. All other passes and fares will remain the same.

The CTA projects that the fare hikes will generate an additional $23 million in revenue, which it’s quick to note is the same amount that the agency announced yesterday that it will save via budget cuts and efficiencies, plus additional ad and concessions revenue.

The transit agency hasn’t yet released projections on what impact the fare hike may have on ridership.

The CTA is also proposing a $2.7 billion capital budget for 2018-2022, which will include station rehabs, new rolling stock, track and signal upgrades, more security cameras, and new technologies. Here’s Streetsblog Chicago’s roundup of current and upcoming CTA infrastructure projects.

An additional ride-hailing fee of 15 cents per trip in 2018 and 20 cents in 2019 passed City Council yesterday, which the CTA projects will contribute an estimated $16 million for infrastructure next year and $21 million the year after.

A public hearing on the proposed budget will be held on Tuesday, December 12, at 6 p.m. at CTA headquarters, 567 West Lake.

Written and oral comments will be taken into consideration before the CTA board votes on the budget action. Written comments can be sent to: Gregory P. Longhini, Assistant Secretary of the Board, Chicago Transit Authority, P.O. Box 7567, Chicago, Illinois 60680-7567. Comments also may be submitted in writing either via email to: or via fax: 312-681-5035. The deadline to submit written comments is noon on Wednesday, December 13.

You can read the proposed budget online here.

The proposed budget is also available for public review at the CTA headquarters reception desk on weekdays between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Copies are also available for review in standard size print and large print at the following locations:

    • Regional Transportation Authority, reception desk, Suite 1650, 175 West Jackson
    • Archer Heights Branch Library, 5055 South Archer
    • Austin Branch Library, 5615 West Race
    • Harold Washington Public Library, 400 South State
    • Jefferson Park Branch Library, 5363 West Lawrence
    • South Shore Branch Library, 2505 East 73rd Street
    • West Town Branch Library, 1625 West Chicago Avenue
    • Woodson Regional Public Library, 9525 South Halsted
    • Evanston Public Library, 1703 Orrington Avenue, Evanston
    • Evergreen Park Public Library, 9400 South Troy, Evergreen Park
    • Oak Park Public Library, 834 Lake Street, Oak Park
    • Riverdale Public Library, 208 West 144th Street, Riverdale
    • Skokie Public Library, 5215 West Oakton, Skokie

Streetsblog Chicago will resume publication on Monday. Have a great Thanksgiving!

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