Chicago hikes (some) transit fares

John Byrne, reporting for the Chicago Tribune:

While it’s true the standard payment for a single CTA trip will remain $2.25, the mayor’s transit agency plans a 16 percent increase to the cost of a 30-day pass and higher jumps for one-day, three-day and seven-day passes. About 55 percent of CTA commuters use some kind of pass.

It’s now cheaper to pay per trip if you’re a commuter on a “regular” schedule. If you have two jobs, the monthly pass is still a better deal, but I’m guessing people with two jobs can least afford the fare hike.

Speaking of…

The mayor suggested commuters who don’t like the new fare structure are free to get behind the wheel, setting aside the fact many Chicagoans who rely on the CTA to get to and from work don’t have cars.

“Now you, as a commuter, will pick. You can either drive to work or you can take public transportation, and the standard fare will stay the same,” Emanuel said.

A reprehensible position. The people who can least afford the hike have the fewest choices, as Byrne rightly points out. Either Emanuel doesn’t understand that—he’s a smart guy, so I doubt it—or he just doesn’t care.

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  1. Agreed. Aren’t we supposed to be encouraging people *to take* public transportation, and not the other way around? I wonder how often Emanuel uses the CTA. $5.75 to $10 is a huge jump, though that one may affect tourists and visitors most. In any case, if all locals start paying in cash, imagine how that will affect the system: riders who pay in cash are almost always bumbling around with their dollar bills and change, holding up the line, slowing down the boarding process; if more people start using cash (sure, they could get a card with money loaded on it, but you can only buy those at train stations, and how many people just use the bus??) then the whole system will slow down, buses will run behind, etc.

    I was in China this summer and got to ride the bus in Wuhan and Changchun, which was quite an experience. Those drivers are crazy and hardly slow down enough for the passengers to board (I remember seeing one late-middle-aged woman barely hopping aboard as the bus came to a rolling stop at the bus stop) but everyone boards incredibly quickly. Their rides are easier to pay for, though – a couple coins, and you’re good. If our rides were 50 cents, boarding would be faster and easier, but one we start feeding dollar bills into a slot, like a vending machine…I foresee no good coming from this.

  2. Reading the Tribune article again, this is what gets me: Emanuel is basically saying, “Gas prices are unstable. CTA pass prices are (relatively) stable. You have to get to work, so chose your mode of transportation, but the cost will be equal either way.” He’s looking at it like it’s a menu option: one $10 dish vs. another $10 dish. You’re going to eat, but the choice of what to eat is up to you. Well, there are other factors: if one dish is a salad and one is a greasy cheeseburger with fries, there are going to be other consequences!