CTA faces state funding cuts that may affect reduced-fare program

July 26, 2013

Aimee Chen

A CTA train stops at a Pink Line station. Senior citizens, students and disabled riders might have to pay more to ride next year as CTA loses millions of dollars in state funding.

The CTA lost a big portion of their reduced-fare funding, meaning senior citizens, students and disabled riders could pay more next year to ride.

A $34 million budget set by the Illinois Department of Transportation was cut in half by legislators, leaving $17.6 million shared among CTA, Metra and Pace.

CTA took the biggest hit because it receives 84 percent of its funding for reduced fares, while Metra receives about 9 percent and Pace gets 7 percent.

The cuts mean CTA has to come up with $7 million this year and double that next year.

CTA Spokesman Brian Steele said that he’s not sure yet what the impact will be.

“Those are real dollars and they’re important to help us maintain the service that we provide, and any reduction of that funding is really a challenge to our budget,” he said. “If we don’t have those dollars, we have to find other ways to make up for those dollars.”

Steele said the reduced-fare program needs at least $90 million dollars annually to function.

Metra’s reduced-fare program will be cut by about $700,000 for the rest of the year, according to Metra Spokesman Michael Gillis.

Gillis said that Metra is not yet considering fare hikes, but the agency will be “working closely with CTA and Pace to attempt to restore some of that funding this fall.”

Aimee Chen is a WBEZ business reporting intern. Follow her at @AimeeYuyiChen