The Chicago Transit Authority last week proposed raising light-rail train and bus fares by 25 cents and monthly passes to $90 from $75 to help cover a looming deficit due to poor tax collections amid rising expenses for employees and fuel.
The proposed fare increases are needed, CTA officials contend, even though the Illinois General Assembly early this year approved a sales tax increase and hike in the city’s tax on real estate transactions as part of a bailout package that benefited the Regional Transportation Authority’s service boards, including the CTA. The package provides about $500 million more annually for transit, including about $200 million for the CTA.
The CTA also would cut nearly 400 positions to help shore up the budget plan as submitted by agency head Ron Huberman, who opted to raise fares over cutting service. The fiscal pressures on the CTA include a loss of about $36 million in state aid, increased fuel costs, and an anticipated increase in debt service of about $18 million over two years as the agency plans to borrow more to cover capital projects.
The CTA in September announced it would cut 80 administrative jobs, defer non-critical spending on bus maintenance, and undertake other cost-cutting measures to save $40 million in its current budget.