Jordan, looks like a cash fare increase is back on the table. Like I said in my previous post, transit agencies should strive to move away from cash to prepaid media and passes:
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CTA weighs fare boost

October 6, 2005


CTA L customers who use cash and paper transit cards would have to pay a $2 fare next year — a 25-cent increase — under a proposal aimed at offsetting spiking fuel costs.

The current $1.75 fare would remain the same for Chicago Card, Chicago Card Plus and weekly and monthly passes, under the CTA’s 2006 budget recommendations that were unveiled today.

No service cuts were proposed for 2006.

“Non-cash fares are unchanged,” Kruesi said at the CTA headquarters, 567 W. Lake St. “You can, if you choose, avoid a fare increase yourself. If you choose not to, that’s your choice.”

Twenty percent of all CTA riders and 40 percent of bus users use cash to travel, CTA officials said.

Kruesi said the agency will continue urging customers to use the account-based Chicago Card and Chicago Card Plus cards, which are cheaper to process than cash. He also is recommending that the $5 sign-up fee for the plastic cards be waived starting Dec. 1 and into the first few months of next year.

The CTA, which faces a projected shortfall of $49 million next year, is expecting to generate $17 million through the cash fare increase to cover some of the expected $48 million fuel costs for 2006.

In 1999, the CTA’s $12.5 million fuel costs made up 1.5 percent of its budget. Next year, the costs are expected to make up 4.6 percent of the budget.

In order to avoid service cuts, Kruesi reluctantly agreed with the RTA’s recommendation to transfer an additional $29 million in capital funds to its operating budget.

“This is purely a temporary measure to buy time for the region’s funding issues to be resolved,” Kruesi said of using the capital money. “As I have made very clear in the past, I think this is bad public policy.”

“I recognize, however, that circumstances are different this year. . . .If we do not take this action, a downward spiral of deep and continued service cuts will begin again,” he said.

The proposed fare increase still must be approved by the CTA Board.

The proposed 2006 operating budget is $1.037 billion — an increase of $40.6 million or 4.1 percent over 2005’s budget.

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