Lake: Chicago Transit Board Approves CTA Budget, Fare Hikes

 CTA Budget Vote Photo

Chicago Transit Board members discuss the budget at a Tuesday night meeting.
(Photo/Josclynn Brandon)

Lake Stop IconBy Josclynn Brandon
The Red Line Project

Posted: Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012

The Chicago Transit Board unanimously approved the Chicago Transit Authority’s proposed 2013 budget on Tuesday. 

The $1.39 billion budget includes increases in monthly, weekly and daily pass prices and other fares, elimination to certain CTA routes and moderation and technology improvements that CTA officials say will better serve customers. The increases will not impact daily individual rides, which are currently $2.25, or the Upass used by college students.

The budget is structurally balance and will help close the original deficit of $165 million, CTA Vice President of Budget, Management and Capital Finance Tom McKone told the board.

The vote came after two public hearings in the past eight days in which Chicagoans aired concerns to CTA officials. Not only were pass price increases and eliminations to bus routes -- particularly the No. 11 Lincoln Avenue bus -- a concern, but also the proposed $5 fare on trips originating from O’Hare International Airport. The board took some of those concerns into consideration.

“There will be an exemption for workers of O’Hare or those working on the O’Hare property,” said McKone.

Said CTA Chief Planning Officer Rebekah Scheinfeld, ““The new fare is really intended to be targeted at visitors and infrequent users who are traveling to the airport as opposed to people who are regularly commuting to the airport for work on a daily basis.”

Scheinfeld said the CTA will work with the Department of Aviation to develop a registration process to identify an employee working on airport property, but that this process will take some time. Until then, the CTA will have an exemption on Chicago Card and Chicago Card Plus users who are entering the O’Hare station. They will continue to pay the base fare of $2.25, rather than the proposed $5.  

The 2013 budget also includes fare reductions to Chicago Public School students. Students currently paying 85 cents will now pay 75 cents. CTA hopes this will encourage better school attendance.

 “The Chicago Transit Board supports this responsible, sound budget, which includes solid management practices and strategies, shared sacrifices with our labor partners and the forward-thinking necessary to allow the CTA to continue to evolve to meet the needs of its riders now and in the future,” Chicago Transit Board Chairman Terry Peterson said in a statement. “This budget reflects a commitment to fiscal stability, which in turn allows the CTA to vigorously pursue its mission of delivering quality, affordable transit for its riders.”

CTA President Forrest Claypool said the "fiscally responsible budget “moves us away from the past legacy of ‘doomsday’ budgets that have had dreadful consequences for our customers. We are moving forward and building a modern CTA that better serves customers and creates economic benefits for our region.”

With the changes in the proposed budget, McKone said he is confident that CTA ridership will remain at high levels in 2013, with a projected 529.9 million rides.

In other CTA news, the board is reviewing a $25 million plan to upgrade the Red Line Bryn Mawr stop that would include improvements to its station and elevator. It also is studying reviewing an agreement with the Wrigley Company to pay more to continue running No. 132 Goose Island express bus.

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