Looks like the fare increase was a success. Not only is it generating more revenue, but it is shifted riders away from paying cash to using prepaid media which not only saves costs (cash is expensive to handle) but also greatly speeds boarding of buses:

WBBM 780 - Chicago's #1 source for local news, traffic and weather

CTA Ridership Up Despite Fare Increase

Bob Roberts Reporting

CHICAGO (WBBM Newsradio 780) -- Despite a new fare structure, CTA ridership was up in January.

A 3.7 percent drop in weekday ridership was more than offset by big increases in weekend travel -- 11.3 percent on Saturdays and 27 percent on Sundays.

"Overall, despite the fact there was a new fare structure, a fare increase for (those using) cash and the elimination of cash transfers, overall the ridership increase to me was very, very encouraging," he said.

In fact, CTA Treasurer Dennis Anosike said fare revenues in January were $1.9 million above budget projections.

Anosike said cash fares now represent only 7 percent of those paid by CTA riders, down from 19 percent a year ago.

Kruesi said the changeover to unlimited-ride passes and its smart cards, the Chicago Card and Chicago Card Plus, has gone as anticipated.

"The elimination of the paper transfers and past misuses of these transfers was most likely the primary reason for this drop in ridership," Anosike said of the weekday figures.

CTA personnel had said for years that some riders would take transfers discarded by others and use them to ride buses and trains. While technically illegal, the practice was difficult to police.

CTA now has 390,000 of the cards in circulation, 180,000 of which have been distributed since a $5 processing fee was waived Dec. 1.

The fee is scheduled to be reinstated April 1, but the CTA's board has scheduled a special meeting March 30 at which board members will vote on an extension of the waiver.

CTA is taking the step because of an anticipated increase in ridership once lane closures begin April 1 as part of the Dan Ryan Expressway reconstruction project.

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