CTA pres. proposes fare hike

Riders consider whether it would be cheaper to drive
October 12, 2009 (CHICAGO) The CTA's president blames the economy for a $300 million budget shortfall. The transit agency is required by law to balance its budget.

As ABC7 Chicago found out Monday night, $3 per ride is enough to make some riders wonder if it's worth it anymore -- or if it might be time to start driving.

Here we go again, the CTA isn't calling it a doomsday budget this year, but the cuts and fare hikes seem worse than ever. To make up for a the $300 million budget shortfall, train rides will go up 75 cents to $3 and bus rides will increase to $2.50.

"You take the train to save money and not have a car. So, I'd have to rework the budget and see if it's worth buying a car at that point," said rider Noah Walman.

That was something many riders speaking with ABC7 said Monday. So, we asked DePaul university transportation expert Joe Schweiterman to help us figure it out:

Let's say you already own a car and work in the Loop.

Gas will cost about a $1,000 per year.
Maintenance: $750
Registration and city sticker: $135
Insurance: $600
Loop parking: $2,400, at least.

That brings the total to drive to just under $5,000.

However, taking the CTA, at the new $110 monthly train rate, will cost you $1,320 per year.

"I think the question is whether or not the difference, the savings in transit, is enough to make them deal with some of the inconvenience of a transit lifestyle," Schweiterman said.

There is much more to the painful CTA budget. Non-union employees have to take 12 unpaid furlough days, plus six unpaid holidays.

CTA President Richard Rodriguez says it's time for the unions to make some concessions or there could be massive layoffs.

"They have not had to experience furlough days or unpaid holidays, and they've continued to get raises," Rodriguez said.

The CTA's two biggest unions told ABC7 Chicago Monday that they've given up enough over the years. And the rank and file, like 17-year veteran bus driver Earl Williams, seem to agree.

"You know, these furlough days -- I feel for them. But I'm sticking with the union," Williams said.

Every big city transit agency has been hit by the ad economy, but compared to Chicago, New York City seems like a bargain. New York raised its subway fare this year from $2 to $2.25, a 12.5 percent increase.

What the CTA called for Monday, $3, would be a 33 percent fare hike.

Daley reacts to proposed CTA fare hikes

Mayor Daley is calling the Chicago Transit Authority's proposed fare increases "very ugly."

On Tuesday, Mayor Daley stressed that this is a last resort because the agency is in a difficult financial position.

"People are getting laid off. People are cutting back. People are taking cut backs with your pay. people are taking furlough days awful things like that its happening all over and the government is not immune to this," said Daley.

Mayor Daley adds that the recession has slashed revenues the c-t-a had counted on from sales and real estate taxes by 30 percent.

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