First CTA fare hike in four years begins today


A Blue Line train towards O’Hare approaches the UIC-Halsted station. CTA has added more runs to the O’Hare branch, in its “plan to reduce crowding” (more commonly called “decrowding plan”), which are short-turned at UIC-Halsted station. Photo by Jeff Zoline. 

The 55% of Chicago Transit Authority passengers who use passes will see an increase in their per-trip fare when they buy new passes or reload a Chicago Card Plus today. This is the first fare increase since January 2009. (See the full schedule of fares on CTA’s website.)

My friend Ryan Lakes, an architect, bike polo player, and West Town Bikes volunteer in Humboldt Park, strongly recommended I watch “Taken For A Ride“, a documentary about the systematic dismantling of rail transit in tens of cities nationwide, and the conversion of those routes to diesel buses manufactured by General Motors. I strongly recommend it, too. It was released in 1996, but watching it today shows me how transit history repeats itself.

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Metra mischaracterizes why people buy 10-ride tickets


A outbound Metra commuter rail train leaving the College Ave station in Wheaton, IL on a misty cold election night in November. Photo by Duane Rapp. 

“The 10-ride is meant as a convenience media, offered as a convenience to riders to save them from having to buy 10 one-ways,” said Metra spokesman Michael Gillis. (The 10-ride ticket costs as much as 9 rides.)

The 10-ride ticket is meant to save customers money and attract them to using transit; otherwise it wouldn’t have been priced at the cost of 9 one-way tickets. Saving money is why people pre-pay for several days worth of rides on Chicago Transit Authority and Pace. Selling tickets in bulk – the 10-ride ticket comes on a single piece of paper – saves Metra money, too. And when CTA and Pace customers use prepaid fares instead of cash, those agencies spend less money having to serve as banks and driving armored trucks around town. Continue reading Metra mischaracterizes why people buy 10-ride tickets

It’s fare increase time again at Metra


“It’s become a Chicagoland tradition that every year around this time, transit riders cross their fingers and hope they won’t be hit with service cuts and fare increases. Unfortunately, it looks like the tradition will continue this year.” -Lee Crandell to the Metra board on October 14, 2011. 

Lee Crandell is right, but the tradition is not something Metra, or any other Chicagoland transit agency, has much control over.

Metra staff has proposed fare increases to the board who have accepted the proposal and will submit them to public hearings in November (schedule at the end). The staff first proposed fare increases to the board on September 16, 2011. They proposed a revised fare increase at the October 14, 2011, meeting, at which Crandell spoke. The alternative to fare increase was one of two service reduction options.

Continue reading It’s fare increase time again at Metra