CHICAGO (CBS) -- The RTA board approved Thursday fare increases for CTA, Metra and Pace as part of the 2018 Regional Transit Operating Budget.
The Regional Transportation Authority board was the last stop for voting on fare increases and related budgetary matters. It began pushing for the fare increases even before the state of Illinois surprised transit officials by imposing a permanent collection fee equal to 2 percent of its sales tax collections.
This is the time in nine years all three service boards -- CTA, Metra and Pace -- have proposed a fare increase.
Board members called the fare increases "modest," but rider George Blakemore disagreed. He took to the microphone and said that for many of his fellow riders, any fare increase is too much.
"We're being taxed out," Blakemore said. "This budget is being balanced on poor people -- poor black people, poor Hispanic citizens, poor whites."
The RTA operating budget totals at $3.0 billion, authorizing operations expenses for the following amounts: CTA - $1.514 billion, Metra - $797 million, Pace Suburban Bus Service - $232 million, Pace Regional ADA Paratransit - $179 million, and RTA - $34.3 million. The board also approved a five-year capital program in the amount of $4.2 billion.
"For the fourth year in row, the transit system cannot expect new capital money from the state of Illinois. The RTA estimates that in order to address the region's growing backlog of capital needs and move forward, we should be investing $2 billion to $3 billion annually. The current capital program falls far short of that goal," the RTA said in a statement.
"The 2018 budgeting and capital planning process was exceptionally challenging. Each Service Board tackled these obstacles by making difficult decisions and, when possible, mitigating the negative impact on riders," said RTA Executive Director Leanne Redden, in a statment. "In order to produce balanced operating budgets as required by law, the budget approved by the RTA board today includes fare increases for CTA, Metra and Pace that are unavoidable in light of current challenging economic factors and cuts in state funding."
The CTA will implement a 25-cent increase in the base fare for bus and rail rides, a $5 increase in the cost of a 30-day pass, and increased reduced-fare rides by 10 to 15 cents to partially offset funding cuts from the State.
Pace will increase its full one‐way fare price by $0.25 on regular fixed‐route, Call-n-Ride and ADA paratransit services. Reduced one-way fare prices for regular fixed‐route and Call-n-Ride services will increase by $0.15 when using Ventra transit value and by $0.10 when using cash. Transfer fares increase by $0.05. No Pace-only passes will change price; however, the joint CTA/Pace 30-day pass will increase from $100 to $105.
For all fare zones on Metra, one‐way fares will increase by $0.25, 10‐ride tickets will increase by a range of $4.25 to $7.75, and monthly passes will increase by a range of $9 to $12.50. Weekend pass prices will increase by $2.
The CTA and Pace increases are scheduled to take effect Jan. 7. The Metra increase kicks in Feb. 1.
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