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Ian / November 6, 2003 11:01 AM

Bring it.

Naz / November 6, 2003 11:19 AM

It's always interested me when living or visiting in different countries/cities, the various ways with which public transportation is paid for by the public. Here, it's $1.50 no matter how far or how short you go. In London or Singapore, the further you go, you more you pay and vice versa. I'm still on the wall about which is a better system.

I don't mind if they increase the price, mostly because I am rarely on a train. I ride my bike everywhere for the most part so my dependency decreased about two years ago drastically. I'm curious as to whether or not monthly, weekly and those 5 dollars passes will increase subsequently.

How about this for a compromise: If they raise the price, they should give us that first transfer free as well instead of that 30 cents charge.

Cinnamon / November 6, 2003 11:33 AM

From what I've heard, the monthly/etc. passes won't go up in price and the transfer will be limited to a one way transfer and I think the transfer time will be shortened. So, no more running downtown to get something and then coming back.

Washington D.C. has the same type of plans that you describe, Naz. Since the areas that are farther away, not including the suburbs, seem to have less economically advanted people living in them, I'm not sure that I like the multi-fare system. But, Illinois the state gives far less money to public transit than many other states.

lacey / November 6, 2003 11:35 AM

From here (a site that also displayes the proposed fares):

The Chicago Transit Board desires public comment before it considers an ordinance to adopt a revised fare structure, effective January 1, 2004. Written comments can be e-mailed to and will be taken into consideration prior to implementation of the fare increase. Deadline to submit written comments has been extended until Friday, November 7, 2003.

They are reducing the cost of a transfer, though, which is okay, even though it's only by $0.05.

I think the whole thing stinks because I don't want to pay more for something I don't even like to ride in the first place. But that's just an opinion.

Andrew / November 6, 2003 11:46 AM

I'm OK with the increase, especially if it means further improvements to the train lines and stations. They've gotta come up with the money somehow.

Luke / November 6, 2003 11:48 AM

25 cents after 12 years is not outrageous.

Course, I too ride my bike almost exclusively, so I won't be affected much. And the people who could be hurt the most -- far-flung commuters who depend on CTA every day -- won't be affected at all, because the monthly pass will remain the same.

In London or Singapore, the further you go, you more you pay and vice versa.

Same with D.C. But do these systems integrate train transit with the bus? Seems like this would be impossible to do with the bus. You'd have to swipe the card when you got off, and how would it monitor how far you've gone? GPS?

BART in the Bay Area does this, but that system is much more spread out than ours, and it's train only. There are stations every four miles (and typically much, much more) instead of every four blocks, defeating the purpose of mass transit: You have to drive to get to the station!

Europe's a different model entirely. The fares go by the zone, at least in the countries I've been to, but their foundation appears to be the honor system. No turnstiles or anything: You're supposed to validate your ticket with a timestamp as you board a bus or train. Theoretically there are agents who will randomly spot-check riders' tickets, but I never saw it happen, and it was I, the dumb American, who was the only one getting his ticket stamped. Can't fathom the honor system working anywhere in the United States. We're not wired for it anymore.

Naz / November 6, 2003 12:02 PM

So what was once $1.80 with one transfer is now $2.00 with the reduced transfer. I can see now why the raise is such: as you mentioned Cinnamon and Andrew, Ill. doesn't allocate the funds. I would like to see if they really do improve the lines and stations. Time will tell.

I forgot DC did that, I was there a few years ago and remember that. The train actually reminded me of Singapore's in a way, clean, and comfortable, lots of space. Even Atlanta's MARTA was pretty decent. Something I'd like to see in the CTA. BART looks similar (aesthetically) as well.

Luke: No, these systems don't intergrate with train and bus unless you have the weekly or monthly pass. In London, it's also by Zone but also by distance/fare, it's a bit of a strange way they do it. You pay your fare and you can get in, but if you overshoot your stop/fare, the ticket which you insert into the turnstile won't let you out. Of course, jumping it is easy if you have to. But you have to get a ticket to get in in the first place. British buses still have conductors and such so if you're lucky and this has happened to me a lot, during rush hours when the bus is full and the conductor can't get to you in time, you can ride for free.

MC High Life / November 6, 2003 12:41 PM

If there is no other way to make up the budget gap, I am more in favor of a fare increase than service cuts. I remember when I moved here a few years ago and the Brown Line ran just a shade past midnight on weekends. Now, it runs until about 2:30 in the morning. Please don't get rid of my bar shuttle!

Jim / November 6, 2003 12:46 PM

I love that Chicago has a decent mass transit system. Most cities in the US do not. You can get most places most of the time (although not as many as you could before the early 90s service cuts).

However it does seem that Chicago's is one of the most expensive in the US and I would guess the CTA gets little money from local governments compared to cities like Boston and possibly SF, where city transit (excluding commuter trains) is significantly cheaper.

If they raise prices to $2 for ride and transfer, I think they're just going to push a new wave of people into their cars like they did in the early 90s when they cut services quite heavily.

I used to be able to get to and from my parents house 24 hrs/day, but now on weekends I cannot travel to or from their house after 7:30pm. As a result, I have to own a car. If they raise the rates to $2 with a transfer, it will be cheaper for me and a few friends to drive for a night out to the movies or whatnot. In most cases, the cost of parking and gas will be cheaper than the cost of taking the CTA there and back.

Alice / November 6, 2003 12:48 PM

It's the reinstitution of the policy that transfers cannot be used to return by the same route on which you arrived that really gets me. I don't have a car so I depend on the CTA to run errands - jumping on the bus or el, going wherever I need to go, and then coming back. If I have to pay $4.00 instead of $1.80 for these trips - that's a huge chunk of money for me.

Brenda / November 6, 2003 12:56 PM

The plans for renovations have been in the works for over a year. It doesn't make sense that this rate hike will be used to pay for those... shouldn't they have already had a plan in place to pay for those improvements?

Still... as long as the rate hike is combined with service improvements and NO service cuts, I can deal with it. But I'll have to start buying monthly passes instead of using my smartcard. Which sort of bites. I love my smartcard.

Luke / November 6, 2003 1:16 PM

It's the reinstitution of the policy that transfers cannot be used to return by the same route on which you arrived that really gets me.

Rest easy: This part of the plan will probably be abandoned.

FWIW, the plan would simply be a restoration of the pre-farecard policy, when we used coins and tokens (and walked to school through the snow, uphill both ways).

jen / November 6, 2003 1:17 PM

i'm all for the fare hike IF it means service will improve. i mean what is the fare hike specifically for anyway? just coming back from london, i am annoyed with the train service, quality and availability in chicago.

Carly / November 6, 2003 2:53 PM

I don't mind the hike. I'm barely saving a couple of bucks by not buying a monthly, and since the price isn't changing, I might as well cave.

It sounds like they would have to make changes in service without the increase, though what specifically, I don't know. I'm assuming it would probably be less trains, or shortened schedules (like the aforementioned Brown line service).

One of my friends said "yeah, but how much do you actually ride the train after 10 pm". Not much, but I don't mind the extra $.25 just to secure 24 hour service on the Red Line, etc.

I don't really see the point in fighting it. Inflation + this shitty economy has got to be part of the reason.

I haven't experienced public transportation in any other city other than San Francisco. And I'd have to say, it's an extremely necessary part of my life, so I suppose I don't mind paying more for the priviledge.

Craig / November 6, 2003 2:55 PM

If they increase the fare they should also:

- Get a web interface going for the Chicago card(a la Paul's Article) and make their trip planner tool on their website more intelligent--- allow it to save destinations, etc

- Comission innovative new architectural designs (a la Rem Koolhaas' IIT tube) for the stations... that include 100% covered platforms (a la Merchandise Mart stop)

- Make the El into a monorail (a la The Simpsons)

april / November 6, 2003 3:04 PM

Hmmm. You'd think they'd use some of that $$ they rake in from parking tickets to help out the CTA. Oh wait, they need that for repaving perfectly fine roads.

stephen / November 6, 2003 3:17 PM

Well, maybe they could close that gap if they (the CTA execs) wouldn't keep giving themselves raises. Or maybe they should study the Boston model. That system is a $1, I believe. But, I suppose you have to take inflation into account, so after all these years a fare hike is somewhat justified. They could just use a bit of the ol' tightening of the belt, as Dailey loves to blab about.

laura / November 6, 2003 5:52 PM

at least it isn't like nyc - the latest price hike there makes each ride $2 with no transfers.
DC's different rates for different length trips has a lot to do with the fact that the DC metro runs into Md and Va as well, and there are different tax rates. Crossing a border is going to increase the cost of your trip.
I think the people would revolt if they tried to raise the fares in Boston. A monthly subway pass is only $30, but it does shut down at midnight. I'd pay an extra $0.25 to be able to get home late.

susan / November 7, 2003 12:34 AM

I suppose I can live with it, but it makes me even more irritated that I'll never have a UPASS. Thanks a lot, University of Chicago.

Becky / November 7, 2003 4:30 AM

One thing that has worked in London is the congestion charge for cars. Create a zone in the center of the city and charge people to drive there (in London it is about $7.50 per day). Plough this money into public transport and keep the fares down while clearing the roads a bit.

Naz / November 7, 2003 11:07 AM

Becky's comment reminds me that Singapore does the same thing. The main downtown area has a specific shopping area that will rival the Mag Mile anyday, it's called Orchard Road and is more like 3 miles of dense shopping centers, over and underground. About a mile in radious outside of this area, the special zone starts, which only allows cars which have the proper permit to enter this zone. Since Singapore is well known for their shopping (seriously, it's the ntaional pastime), it makes complete senseto do this. I thought this was a good way to deal with congestion in the downtown and most busiest and highly trafficked area in Singapore. A possible option to explore.

shechemist / November 7, 2003 11:51 AM

metra raised their rates for the first time in a decade (or so) a year ago. the trains are not any less crowded. I know I am not going to use the CTA any less if they up the cost, and keep the 2 hour transfers. I freaking love the 2 hour transfer. I can get a ton of errands in two hours using the CTA and not have to deal with parking and driving.

the CTA with the rate hike, will still far cheaper than the tube in london.

MC High Life / November 7, 2003 12:48 PM

Boston: The MBTA is in fact raising fare prices for next year. These raises are across the board (single fares, passes, etc.). Some trains are only $1 but like DC, they have different fares for different zones. Cheapest is $1 and the most expensive is $2.50. Next year, these prices will jump to $1.25 and $3.00. Monthly pass jumps from $35 to $44. That price is subway only. If you want the Combo pass (subway and bus), it will run you $71, just $4 cheaper than Chicago yet with much more limited transit features.

atomly / November 9, 2003 11:44 PM

i'm all for the fare hike IF it means service will improve. i mean what is the fare hike specifically for anyway? just coming back from london, i am annoyed with the train service, quality and availability in chicago.

Yea, but at least in Chicago you don't have to take out a mortgage on your house to take a trip across town and you can actually ride the train after midnight. I've spent over two hours taking the night bus home on what should have been a half hour trip by train during the day.

I don't get how people can hate on Chicago's transit system so much. I've never found anywhere in Chicago that's really that hard to get to on the CTA and I really don't think the system is in that bad of shape-- certainly not worse than some of the older lines on the Underground. Of course the BART is nicer- it's basically a Metra. As far as MARTA and the DC Metro, they're both much newer and much more expensive. NY's subway is nice, but even it isn't much better than the CTA (and is now $2). You ever try getting to an airport in NYC on public transporation? Or any other city, for that matter?

I'm really hoping that the city goes through with the West Loop Transportation Center, the Circle line, the O'Hare express, the line extensions (brown, orange and red) and that eventually the Midwest HSR initiative goes through. This would make it very easy to get anywhere in Chicago and the outlying areas very quickly.

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