Moving beyond the shock of CTA fare increases to doing something about it


Drive? Drive! Photo by Dan O’Neill. 

I’m not going to try to make sense of the pending Chicago Transit Authority fare increases, why they’re necessary, or of Rahm’s insensitive remarks on Monday that he clarified yesterday. There are already great responses on these matters:

You will have to figure out for yourself if it’s still worth it to buy single or multi-day passes. Need a primer on what’s proposed to change? Check out the CTA’s FAQ (.pdf). The fare increases will be voted on by the CTA board on December 18, 2012, at 2:30 PM, and the increases would take effect January 14, 2013.

I’m going to try and inspire you to take action and give you some tools that may help lessen the impact on your household’s finances. Here are 12 ideas.

1. Illinois legislators control the CTA so you have to tell them how you feel about fare increases and transportation subsidy policies. They decide how much financial assistance transit agencies will get. Tell them which way you tend to vote. You can find their contact info on the Riders for Better Transit website.

2. There are pre-tax benefits available at supportive workplaces. Money is removed from your paycheck to purchase a cash transit card or a monthly pass before taxes are calculated. You can save hundreds of dollars per year. This applies to Metra and Pace riders, too. You cannot get this benefit individually: your employer most offer it. If they don’t, give your boss or HR manager this information. Learn more at

If you get pushback, educate your coworkers or contact Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) and Riders for Better Transit to see if they can help you reach out to company executives.

3. The mayor of Chicago and the governor of Illinois appoint four and three members to the CTA board, respectively. Direct your attention to those two.

4. The budget recommendations for the following budget year (2013) are created by CTA president Forrest Claypool and his staff and then presented to the appointed board members for their approval. If I kept better track of the board’s activity I could tell you if they’ve ever told the CTA president to revise the budget recommendations. You can speak to the board at two public meetings in December: Continue reading Moving beyond the shock of CTA fare increases to doing something about it

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Grid Bits: CTA modifies Red South plan, hearing Tuesday; bike crashes at intersections


Bonus: The Chicago Transit Authority is building an auxiliary entrance at the Roosevelt Green and Orange Lines station, on the south side of Roosevelt, near the Starbucks, Jewel, and dry cleaners. This was previously exit-only. The new entrance will speed up trips for those who transfer from the eastbound #12 Roosevelt bus to this train station. Photo by the CTA. 

There are six stories (five transit, and one bicycling) mentioned in this September 4th edition of Grid Bits. The Chicago Transit Authority has been very busy in the past few months.



Chicago Sun-Times will sponsor three years of the “first day of school free rides” program that gives all Chicago Public Schools students a free ride today and in 2013, and 2014.

Sun-Times Media is contributing more than $150,000 to the program, designed to promote first-day attendance for CPS elementary and high school students.

Continue reading Grid Bits: CTA modifies Red South plan, hearing Tuesday; bike crashes at intersections

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Talk, Forrest, talk! The CTA chief responds to our transit questions


Steven and Forrest Claypool.

Yesterday the Chicago Transit Authority gave a handful of transportation bloggers the opportunity to meet with CTA President Forrest Claypool at the agency’s headquarters and ask him about the state of the agency and its future projects. Steven and I were joined by our colleagues Patrick Barry, filling in for Kevin O’Neil from CTA Tattler, and Kevin Zolkiewicz from Chicago Bus, who also contributes to Grid Chicago.

During the freewheeling 45-minute discussion Mr. Claypool patiently answered any and all of our queries about the transit authority’s sometimes controversial decisions. He was particularly candid about the upcoming Jeffery Corridor Bus Rapid Transit initiative, volunteering his opinion that this pilot project isn’t really bus rapid transit, but rather a step in the right direction. Here are a few of Steven’s and my questions and Mr. Claypool’s responses.

Continue reading Talk, Forrest, talk! The CTA chief responds to our transit questions

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Grid Bits: Pace increases bus frequency on Stevenson and other transit news


The Morgan Street Green/Pink Line station will be open in May, according to the Chicago Department of Transportation. This photo was taken April 2, 2012, by Jeff Zoline, a frequent photo contributor.

There are 8 transit stories in this post (1 for Pace, 2 for Metra, 4 for CTA, and one story about how transit users save money because they’re not driving to work). Hat tips to CTA Tattler and Riders for Better Transit for keeping up with transit news in Chicagoland.

1. Pace yesterday began putting more buses on routes 755 and 855, both of which can drive on the shoulders of I-55/Stevenson Expressway during rush hour periods when traffic is moving slower than 35 MPH. They’re doing this because of increased demand for a route that’s seen its reliability improved and travel time decreased. There’s no word yet on the status of running buses on the shoulder of I-90/Jane Addams Memorial Tollway.

2. People who take transit to work instead of driving save $1,006 per month because of the cost of gas, insurance, parking, and other expenses. This is actually just a monthly calculation the American Public Transport Association releases. See the savings in the top 20 cities on the APTA’s website (via Chicago Sun-Times). Continue reading Grid Bits: Pace increases bus frequency on Stevenson and other transit news

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Follow Friday April: Read these blogs


Photo of people descending stairs at State and Lake by Ann Fisher. 

Taking a cue from Twitter where #FF means “Follow Friday” and people post the @names of others they recommend you follow, I am recommending some sites from our links page that you should follow.

  • A City Guy – Chicago based “thoughts on land use and transportation”.
  • CTA Tattler – Best source for ALL Chicago Transit Authority news.
  • The Urbanophile – Best source for reflective writing about Midwest cities’ economics, demography, and sometimes transportation.
  • – Personal musings on Andersonville, CTA, and transportation infrastructure.
  • Human Transit – International-focused blog about transit resources and operations.
  • Let’s Go Ride A Bike – Two women authors write about their experiences bicycling in Chicago and Nashville.

Should I have recommended someone else? Make your own suggestion in the comments and we’ll consider listing that site on our Links page. All of them are also members of the Grid Chicago Network, a sort of RSS reader about local sustainable transportation news and issues.

You can follow us on Twitter:

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This week in CTA news: Changes to Red and Purple line stations plus faster service to airports


The Morse Red Line station would be affected by the CTA’s plan. In the two Modernization scenarios, it would become accessible. Photo by Eric Rogers. 

On Monday and Tuesday, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) held identical meetings about the Red & Purple Modernization Project it started planning (at least with the public) last year. According to the CTA’s website, the project “would help bring the existing transit line into a state of good repair, reduce travel times, improve access to job markets and destinations, and provide improved access to people with disabilities”. The project area is in two areas: on what’s called the North Side Main Line, the four tracks from Belmont to Howard, and on the Purple Line-only tracks from Howard to Linden in Wilmette, Illinois. Continue reading This week in CTA news: Changes to Red and Purple line stations plus faster service to airports

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