CTA proposes fare increase

    The cost of rides to Chicago on the city’s fabled “El” trains will increase to $2.25 on Jan. 1 under the Chicago Transit Authority’s proposed budget, released Thursday.

    The proposal comes two days before Northwestern’s first free shuttle bus into the city is due to take off under a fall pilot program. The “Chicago Express” will run every Saturday this fall; there are currently no funds for the bus to continue running past November.

    The cost jump would hit all riders: Chicago Card holders would no longer get a 25-cent discounted fare nor a free extra ride for every $20 spent.

    Chicago Transit Authority President Ron Huberman said in a statement that the budget changes are meant to handle the “economic downturn.” The lack of a State capital program has also hit the CTA’s bottom line, the statement said, causing it to devote additional operating funds to make necessary maintenance and repairs.

    Threats to raise CTA fares aren’t new. Last fall, a $158 million projected budget deficit led to multiple threats of a “doomsday” scenario which would cut dozens of bus lines and cause train fares to rise up to a dollar. The Illinois state legislature eventually signed for enough funding to prevent the changes.

    Kelli Greenberg contributed to this report.


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