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CTA: Plan For No 2016 Fare Hikes, Depends On State Assistance

cta-1The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) has announced that there will be no new fare hikes next year. However, this depends greatly on the assistance of the state of Illinois and agreement on the CTA’s 2016 budget.

However, even if assistance is agreed upon, the state still owes $221 million to the CTA for 2015 capital improvements. In addition, the CTA budget also banks on Gov. Bruce Rauner rolling back a recent 50-percent cut in transit subsidies to financially offset the free and reduced rates given to disabled and low-income commuters.

CTA president Dorval Carter Jr. feels that this is a “realistic budget” even with the possible state pitfalls. Carter said,”Even if we do have to pivot, I am still focused on maximizing efficiencies.” He is looking to eliminate 100 non-critical CTA manager positions. The jobs being eliminated will not affect bus/train operators or station attendants and will make up 2 percent of the overall CTA workforce.

Not only will the proposed budget maintain the third straight year of fares without increases, it will also include two new rush-hour express routes. The plan will reintroduce the No. 9 Ashland Express and the No. 49 Western Express routes during their peak ridership periods. They will run alongside the regular No. 9 Ashland and No. 49 Western buses but will have limited stops morning through evening. The new express routes should start in December.

To be released on Thursday, the CTA operational budget for next year is expected to cost $1.47 billion, a 3.3 percent higher amount than the 2015 forecast. This amount includes a $24.7 million increase from 2015 projections due to contractual wage increases. It also takes into account a $11.9 million decrease in fuel costs.

CTA Rail customers are expected to increase 1.4 percent next year and the declining CTA bus ridership is expected to stay flat with neither an increase nor a decrease. Overall, CTA Rail is predicting 518.9 million rides for all CTA services in 2016.


Sources: Tribune

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