Transit riders will pay as much as $2.25 to ride the city’s buses and trains in 2009.
The proposed 2009 budget for the Chicago Transit Authority raises fares for riders who pay cash or use regular transit or Chicago Cards and raises the price of a 30-day pass to $90. If approved by the Chicago Transit Board, the fare hikes will take effect in January 2009.
“That stinks,” says Antonia “Nina” Alvarez, 34. She waited with her 2-year-old daughter, Maria, to catch an eastbound bus at the corner of Ashland and Chicago on yesterday afternoon. “We already cut back gas and now we will cut back on this. Everywhere you look prices are up and it hurts families the most. We need a break.”
The agency announced its proposed budget today and will present details of the plan at a 10 a.m. board meeting tomorrow at CTA headquarters, 567 W. Lake. The public can comment on the proposed budget during a 6 p.m. meeting on Oct. 29, also at CTA headquarters.
The CTA’s budget for 2009 is $1.324 billion, up 9.5 percent from its 2008 budget of $1.209 billion. The agency blames its budget woes on spikes in fuel, power and labor costs, a program that allows seniors, the disabled and members of the military to ride for free, a "softening" of sale tax revenue and the loss of state's reduced fare subsidy.
Agency officials say the budget does not divert cash needed for physical improvements to the system to pay for operations.
The agency does not plan to cut any service routes or change the free-ride program for seniors, members of the military or the disabled.
“None of our belt-tightening measures will impact service or diminish our continued investment in improved customer satisfaction,” CTA President Ron Huberman says in a press release.
The increases amount to $2.25 for a train ride and $2 for a bus ride for those who use regular transit or Chicago Cards. The CTA will eliminate the 10 percent incentive for Chicago Card customers who add $20 to their card value. Cash fares on buses will rise to $2.25. And 30-day pass price for unlimited rides will rise to $90 from its current rate of $75.
The CTA’s 2009 budget cuts a total of 632 jobs from the CTA payroll compared to 2008.
The Chicago Transit Board will consider approving the proposed budget at a November meeting. Written comments about the plan can be submitted to Gregory P. Longhini, assistant secretary of the board, CTA, P.O. Box 7567, Chicago, Ill., 60680. Comments can also be emailed to the CTA at firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline to submit comments is Nov. 5.
Amy Lee is a Chicago-based journalist. She covers transit issues for the Daily News.