Lower prices on CTA’s most-popular passes continue to drive ridership; President Carter expands commitments to innovation, equity and inclusion
The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) today proposed a $1.75 billion operating budget that takes multiple steps to ensure that public transit remains a crucial part of the city’s continuing recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The proposed spending plan maintains all the bus and rail service the region has relied on during the recovery. The plan also reflects a major realignment of fares and passes to better meet changing ridership patterns due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The CTA is proposing price reductions on its unlimited-ride passes and other customer-friendly enhancements to make CTA even more affordable, support the region’s ongoing recovery from the pandemic, and continue to drive a return to transit.
Though CTA ridership grew throughout 2021, it remains at roughly half of pre-pandemic levels. The one/three/seven-day pass-price promotion, launched as a pilot on Memorial Day 2021, generated more than 10 million rides over the summer months. Additionally, riders who used a promotional pass increased their rides by 56 percent more than those riders who remained using pay per use or pay-as-you-go.
In 2022, the CTA will build on the success of the promotional fares and make permanent the price reductions on its most popular unlimited-ride passes:
- 1-Day pass: $5 (down from $10)
- 3-Day pass: $15 (down from $20)
- 7-Day pass: $20 (down from $28)
In response to the more flexible work environment many employers have put into place, CTA is lowering its 30-Day Full Fare pass price to $75 (from $105) and the 30-Day Reduced Fare pass price to $35 (from $50). Additionally, the CTA-Pace 7-Day pass will be reduced to $25 (from $33) to reflect the $5 premium for the shared pass with Pace Suburban Bus.
And, lastly, CTA will eliminate the 25-cent charge when transferring between CTA buses and trains or vice versa: Customers will now have two free transfers within a two-hour period of their first paid ride.
Throughout 2022, CTA will work with Pace and Metra to further streamline regional fares, including amending the Metra Link Up pass.
“The pandemic has strongly reaffirmed the importance of public transit to many in our city, including some of our most vulnerable populations for who transit remains a lifeline,” said CTA President Dorval R. Carter, Jr. “Making our already low fares even more affordable not only ensures that we continue to meet the region’s needs, but encourages a return to ridership as businesses and offices welcome workers back.”
Since the start of the pandemic, federal funding has been crucial to allow transit agencies across the country, including the CTA, to maintain their operations. Federal funding from the American Rescue Plan will help the CTA close a projected $456 million budget gap in 2022—and allow the agency to continue providing full service.
Despite the financial challenges, the CTA continues to look for ways to operate more efficiently and effectively, and to best serve the region. In 2022, President Carter will create the CTA’s first-ever Office of Innovation, to focus on the evolving mobility industry, new technologies and practices, and bold new ways to improve the rider experience.
President Carter will also launch a new Department of Equity and Inclusion, which will support and expand upon the CTA’s already industry-leading efforts toward promoting opportunity, employment, training, economic development and other aspects of the agency’s commitment to equity and inclusion.
Additionally, the CTA remains focused on modernization and improvement of its physical infrastructure—tracks, rail stations, buses and trains, facilities and technologies. The CTA’s 2022-2026 Capital Improvement Program—which is separate from the agency’s operating budget—calls for $3.5 billion in projects over the next five years. Among many important investments is the Red Line Extension, which will extend the CTA’s busiest rail line to the southern City limits, providing transit access and connectivity to the Far South Side of Chicago.
Other capital projects to continue or begin in 2022 include:
- All Stations Accessibility Program (ASAP), to make CTA’s rail system 100% vertically accessible.
- Blue Line Forest Park Branch track and power improvements, the first phase of a comprehensive rebuild.
- Expansion of electric bus fleet, part of CTA’s commitment to complete the electrification of the entire bus fleet by the year 2040.
- Refresh & Renew, an expanded and accelerated rail station improvement program.
- Better Streets for Buses, a comprehensive, citywide plan for bus-priority streets.
“Investment in transit infrastructure has always been an investment in a strong future for the city,” Carter said. “Further, continued investment in transit is directly tied to our city’s economic recovery, a way to promote jobs and opportunities at a time when the city needs them most.”
More information on the proposed 2022 budget is at transitchicago.com
A virtual public hearing will be held at 6 p.m. November 11, 2021. Due to public health concerns, the public hearing will proceed only virtually.
A link to view the hearing will be available at transitchicago.com/finance. Members of the public who wish to speak at the virtual public hearing are encouraged to submit their request prior to the hearing. Options for providing comment at the virtual hearing or for submission to the Chicago Transit Board on the proposed 2022-2026 Capital Program of Projects, 2022 Operating Budget and Program, and the Financial Plan for 2023 and 2024 are detailed below:
WRITTEN STATEMENTS: Written statements will be taken into consideration prior to the adoption of the proposed 2022-2026 Capital Program of Projects, 2022 Operating Budget and Program, and Financial Plan for 2023 and 2024. Written comments for the Chicago Transit Board’s review and consideration must be submitted by 5 p.m. Tuesday, November 16, 2021. Written comments may be submitted in any of the following ways:
- Via US Mail, CTA Board Office, 567 W. Lake Street, 2nd Floor, Chicago, IL 60661
- Via drop off at CTA Headquarters, 567 W. Lake Street, 1st floor mailroom
- Via fax at 312-681-5035
- Via email at GLonghini1@transitchicago.com
ORAL STATEMENTS: Members of the public who wish to speak at the virtual public hearing are encouraged to register prior to the hearing, by completing and submitting a Request to Speak form online at transitchicago.com/finance. Individuals registered online by Wednesday, November 10, 2021, the day before the hearing, will be called by the CTA, at the telephone number provided, during the November 11, 2021hearing, to be connected to the virtual public hearing proceedings.
DIAL IN AT THE TIME OF THE HEARING: Members of the public may also dial-in, while the hearing is in progress, to request to speak, by calling 312-681-3091. Individuals who pre-register to speak will be taken up first at the virtual public hearing. Individuals who call while the hearing is in progress will then speak in the order that they call in.
Copies of the proposed 2022-2026 Capital Program of Projects, 2022 Operating Budget and Program and the Financial Plan are also available for review in standard size print and large print at the main office of the Regional Transportation Authority, reception desk, Suite 1550, 175 West Jackson, Chicago, Illinois 60604; at the Archer Heights Branch Library, 5055 South Archer Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60632; Austin Branch Library, 5615 West Race Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60644; Harold Washington Public Library, 400 South State Street, 5th floor, Chicago, Illinois 60605; Austin-Irving Branch, Chicago Public Library, 6100 West Irving Park Road, Chicago, Illinois 60634; Avalon Branch Library, 8148 South Stony Island Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60617; West Town Branch Library, 1625 West Chicago Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60622; Woodson Regional Public Library, 9525 South Halsted Street, Chicago, Illinois, 60628; Evanston Public Library, 1703 Orrington Avenue, Evanston, Illinois, 60201; Evergreen Park Public Library, 9400 South Troy, Evergreen Park, Illinois, 60805; Oak Park Public Library, 834 Lake Street, Oak Park, Illinois 60301; and the Skokie Public Library, 5215 West Oakton, Skokie, Illinois, 60077
At the virtual public hearing the CTA will afford an opportunity for interested persons or agencies to be heard with respect to social, economic, environmental and other related aspects of the proposed 2022-2026 Capital Program of Projects, 2022 Operating Budget and Program, Proposed Fare Reductions and the Financial Plan for 2023 and 2024.
At the virtual public hearing, an American Sign Language interpreter and a Spanish interpreter will be provided. Individuals with disabilities who require other accommodations to review the budget or to provide feedback should contact Gregory Longhini, Board Secretary, at GLonghini1@transitchicago.com, 312-681-5022 or Relay.