CTA approves 25-cent hike in fares, first increase in 9 years

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SUN-TIMES MEDIA WIRE - The Chicago Transit Board on Wednesday agreed to raise fares by 25 cents as they approved a $1.51 billion operating budget that will keep bus and rail service levels where they currently stand.

Bus fares will be increased to $2.25 and train fares will go up to $2.50, the CTA announced.

“As the nation’s second-largest transit agency, CTA provides vital transit services for millions of riders every year. I am pleased that this responsible, structurally sound budget continues our efforts to better serve Chicagoans across our city and our service area,” Chicago Transit Board Chairman Terry Peterson said.

Reduced fare rides will also be increased: up 10 cents for bus travel and up 15 cents for rail, the CTA said. A 30-day unlimited ride pass will cost an additional $5.

All other fares and passes, including discounted student fares, will remain at their current prices.

The fare hike starts Jan. 7.

The agency announced plans to raise fares Nov. 22. At the time, CTA President Dorval Carter said he understood riders might be angered by the increase.

This is not something that I wanted to do,” Carter said. “It is not something that I had planned to do. I’ve gone nine years without having done this. No other transit system in the country has gone that long without raising their fares.”

The last time the CTA raised fares — also a 25 cent increase — was in 2009.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel blamed the hike on a $33 million cut in state funding for the CTA.

“The state cut the CTA by $33 million. So I said, `One, you’re not gonna cut any aspect of service. In fact, they expanded service on the South Side. Two, you’ve got to find cuts inside management before you go to commuters. Third, the state has cut us. Fourth, the budget is less by $9.7 million. And fifth, we’ve gone eight years without a fare increase,” Emanuel said.