In order to eliminate an anticipated $55 million deficit, the Chicago Transit Board today voted to reduce service levels and also raise fares for cash customers and rail customers who pay with a transit card. The changes will be effective July 17. Of the five scenarios under consideration, the Board approved a hybrid plan that combines elements of the Modified Sunday Schedule scenario and the Fare Increase scenario and retains overnight service.
Under this plan, weekday and Saturday service levels will be reduced to match the level of service currently offered on Sunday and wait times are expected to increase by approximately 68 percent. A total of 54 bus routes will be eliminated, including most express bus routes and the Purple Line Express. Some service will still be provided 24 hours a day to maintain basic mobility at all times, but the service hours on most bus and rail routes will be reduced as will frequency of service.
The CTA estimates that the service reductions would ultimately result in the elimination of about 2,000 jobs.
The addition of a fare increase will allow the CTA to retain Night Owl service and offer slightly higher service levels than originally proposed under the Modified Sunday Schedule.
?Providing incentives to use electronic fare media is a fiscally prudent and customer-sensitive course of action. It will reduce CTA's costs and speed up boarding, while allowing customers to choose fare options that will not increase their overall costs," explained Chicago Transit Board Chairman Carole Brown.
Fares will increase from $1.75 to $2 for cash-paying customers and for rail customers who use Transit Cards. Transfers will no longer be sold to customers paying cash.
Customers who use passes, Chicago Cards (CC), Chicago Card Plus (CCP), and bus customers who use Transit Cards, will not be impacted. Fares for those cards will stay $1.75 and transfers will still be available to them for 25 cents. Pass prices will remain the same. The bonus for CC and CCP customers will change. The 10 percent bonus will now be offered for every $20 added to the card instead of the current $10. The $5 purchase fee for the CC and CCP will be waived through July 31, 2005.
Reduced fares, available to seniors, students and customers with disabilities, will increase from 85 cents to $1 for those who pay cash and they will be unable to buy transfers. The reduced fare will remain 85 cents for customers using cards and transfers will still cost 15 cents. Prices for reduced fare passes ? which allow unlimited transfers ? will remain the same.
Last fall, the Chicago Transit Board passed the Gridlock budget which included a 20 percent reduction in service levels scheduled to take effect January 2, 2005. But at the request of members of the General Assembly, the Board deferred service cuts until July 2005 to allow time for the General Assembly to review the issue of transit funding. The CTA remains hopeful that the General Assembly will take action during the spring session to increase regional transit funding. If the General Assembly does not act, however, the CTA will be forced to implement the newly approved plan to balance its budget.
?The best possible scenario is one in which we do not have to implement this plan because the General Assembly has acted," said Chicago Transit Board Chairman Carole Brown. ?Through the combined systems of CTA, Metra and Pace, the Chicago area has one of the most extensive public transit networks in the United States and the goal is to preserve it and continue to add service to meet the demand."
?This is not the action CTA wants to take, but we must be prepared to deal with the consequences of insufficiently funding public transit for the past two decades," said CTA President Frank Kruesi. ?We are required to operate under a balanced budget and have to prepare our customers for the possibility of service cuts and our employees for the loss of positions related to those cuts."
Service reductions will be felt both by residents and businesses throughout the region. Pace and Metra will also be impacted as millions of Pace and Metra customers connect to CTA services each year.
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