Analysis of proposed CTA fare hike and its effects on riders
- Bus fare increases from $1.75 to $2, whether you use a Chicago Card or transit card.
- Train fare increases from $1.75 to $2.25 for Chicago Card users, and from $2 to $2.25 for transit card users.
- The 10% loading bonus for $20 put on a Chicago Card is eliminated.
- Transfer price remains at 25 cents.
- A monthly pass increases from $75 to $90.
- No service cuts.
And remember, this is "proposed." Da Mayor has already said: "We're looking at it. . . . There's no OK on this. I don't know where you are getting that. . . . They can announce it. Like you announce things and then you negotiate. . . . We're looking at it very carefully with the economy and other issues."
So what does it all mean for the average commuter? For the sake of argument, let's define the average commuter as a person who takes only one rail line to work, with no transfers.
Right now, if that person is using a Chicago Card, he gets about 12.6 rides per $20 ($22 with the loading bonus divided by $1.75 per ride).
After the increase, that person will get about 8.9 rides per $20 (no bonus, so $20 divided by $2.25). That's a 30% decrease in ride purchasing power.
Right now, if that person is using a transit card, he gets 10 rides per $20 ($20 divided by $2 per ride).
After the increase, that person will get about 8.9 rides per $20 ($20 divided by $2.25). That's just an 11% decrease in ride purchasing power, compared to 30% for the Chicago Card user.
Now, let's parse the price for a monthly pass user, whether with a transit card or Chicago Card. For the sake of argument, let's say the average month has 21 work days, and again this person takes only one round trip on a train per day, with no transfers.
Under the current $1.75 fare, 21 round trips would cost that person $73.50 per month, so unless he made at least one more trip, he would be giving the CTA $1.50 each month in free money with the current $75 price of the monthly pass.
But under the proposed $2.25 fare, 21 round trips would cost $94.50, so he'd be getting $4.50 worth of "free rides" from the CTA at the new $90 monthly price. And if that person is in the 25% tax bracket and using the Commuter Transit Benefit, he's buying the pass with pre-tax dollars and saving even more. Of course, that's true even if you're not using the monthly pass.
But let's get back to those not using the monthly pass. MK made some good points in asking why Huberman is trying to discourage the use of the Chicago Card. He says the CTA has "completely dismantled any incentives for people to use a Chicago Card. Completely."
But I disagree. One of the key reasons for me to use it is to protect against losing the card, and to not have to worry about ever filling up the card at a machine. I use the monthly pass and get the cost taken out of my paycheck monthly via the Commuter Benefit. But even if I didn't have that benefit, I would have the CTA take it from my credit card account.
And personally, I think it's the right thing to do to increase fares more for those who use the Chicago Card than for those who don't. I know people like Martha may disagree with me, but I just think it's fair.
Bottom line, I'm OK with the increase, and I'll get even more rides out of my monthly pass, even though it will cost me $15 more. But that $15 would buy me about four gallons of gas, which would tak eme about 80 miles at 20 miles per gallon. For me that's the cost of driving to work four days. Yep, I'm OK with it.