CTA riders react to price hike

Base fares would stay the same, but unlimited-ride passes could see steep hikes in 2013

November 20, 2012

(WBEZ/Lewis Wallace)
Norman Jessup getting off the train in the loop. He relies on the monthly pass to commute to a minimum-wage job.

The Chicago Transit Authority released its proposed 2013 budget Tuesday after reaching a contract deal Monday with a key labor union.

In the new budget proposal, the ride fare of $2.00 for the bus and $2.25 for the train remain the same, but discounted unlimited ride passes all see a price hike. A 30-day pass will jump from $86 to $100; seven-day and 3-day passes will go up by $5 and $6, respectively. Fare prices for high school students will go down by 10 cents under the new plan.

“We would not have asked our customers to accept smaller discounts but for management and labor both doing their part,” said CTA President Forrest Claypool.  The proposed budget includes $50 million in savings through labor cost cuts, and a $56 million increase in revenue based on the new prices.

“That’s ridiculous,” said Mondeesa Jones of Chatham. She said her mother uses the 30-day pass. “What are we getting for the fourteen dollars. To know what time the train is coming?”

Another rider, Norman Jessup of Rogers Park, said he commutes three hours every day to a minimum wage job.

“That’s a lot,” he said of the increase. “A lot of people have no choice but to ride the bus.”

But Lindsay Cochran of Uptown said a couple more dollars a week is not a big deal to her.

“It kinda stinks,” she said. “But it’s quite reasonable compared to other transit systems.” She used to live in Atlanta, and described the transit system there as both “terrible” and “more expensive.”

Nobody we talked to on the street said they’d change their transit habits after the price hike.

“Gotta pay it, gotta ride it,” said Allen Smith, summing of the views of many who depend on the discount passes.

The CTA will hold hearings Dec. 10 and 17 to hear comments from the public on the proposed budget.