How CTA fare hike affects different rider profiles -- increases from 13% to 61%
The CTA fare increase that went into effect Jan. 1 now means holders of Transit Cards and Chicago Card/Plus stored-value fare cards pay the same fare as cash fare payers. Only bus riders paying cash will pay more more -- $2.25 versus $2 for Transit Card and CC/P card users.
CC/P users now pay more percentage-wise than those who previously used Transit Cards or cash. So depending on how you paid your fare, you may be paying up to 41% more than last year. your seatmate. (Much more if you park at a CTA-owned garage.) So let's review those various rider scenarios to see how much more you're paying on a percentage basis. (For our scenarios, we'll assume 20 work days per month for 40 distinct monthly CTA trips.)
CCP Charlie -- 41% fare increase
CCP Charlie has been a loyal Chicago Card Plus user since the stored value card was first introduced. He always loved his 10% bonus for reloading $20 on the card, plus the convenience of knowing if the card was ever lost or stolen, he could get it replaced for $5 with the value still saved on his card account.
Charlie rides the Blue Line from Logan Square into his job in the Loop as an accountant. He sometimes uses the card on weekends, so he usually puts $80 on his card every month. Last year, that $80 got him $88, or 50.3 round trips -- $88 divided by the $1.75 rail fare for CCP users. Effectively, he was paying $1.59 per trip, so 40 trips to and from work cost him $63.64.
This year, Charlie loses the 10% reloading bonus, and the rail fare is now $2.25. So his $80 now buys just 35.6 round trips. And 40 total trips now cost $90 instead of $63.64. So he's paying 41.4% more than last year. Yikes!
Transit Card Trina -- 13% increase
Transit Card Trina didn't like the Big Brother aspect of the Chicago Card program, where it could report everywhere you went. So she stuck with Transit Cards, despite losing the 10% loading bonus in a fare hike in 2006. Like CCP Charlie, she paid just one train fare per day to get to her non-profit job in Evanston -- the Red Line and then the Purple.
In 2008, she paid $2 per trip to ride the rails on her Transit Card. So $80 exactly bought her the 40 trips to cover her 20 work days a month. This year, she will pay 25 cents more per trip, a $10 increase per month to $90. So that's 12.5% more for her 20 work days per month. Trina should consider buying a monthly pass. Then her increase would be just 7.5%, and she could take unlimited rides on the CTA.
CCP Monthly Pass Kevin -- 15% increase
That's me. I buy a monthly pass via the Chicago Card Plus. Last year it cost me $75. This year I will pay $86 - a 15% increase. The CTA originally wanted a 20% increase to $90, but the CTA board reduced the increase on all passes to about 15%.
And in 2008, 20 round trips would cost $70 -- $5 short of paying for the monthly pass. This year those 20 round trips cost $90, so I save $4 using the monthly pass over paying by the ride.
Cash-only Cary bus rider -- 13% increase
Cary, a 20-year-old who can't afford college, lives paycheck-to-paycheck on her barely-minimum wage retail job on Michigan Avenue. She barely has enough cash to get the #147 bus to work each day from Rogers Park, so she doesn't buy a Transit Card nor Chicago Card. Like Transit Card Trina, 40 trips cost her $80 in 2008. So she'll see a 12.5% increase as well to $90. But she really should save her pennies to buy a monthly pass. Then the fare hike would be 7.5%.
CC/P user, CTA parker Pauline -- 64% increase
Pauline drives to the Cumberland station on the Blue Line and takes it into the Loop. She pays for her rail fare with her Chicago Card Plus. We already know that -- like Charlie -- the fare increase is 41.4% for Pauline. But Pauline also has to reach deeper into her pocket to park at the CTA garage. Parking fees went up this year at CTA-owned lots. It now costs $4 to park up to 12 hours at most lots -- double the $2 it cost last year.
So let's do the math to get Pauline's total percentage increase. She's now paying $90 instead of $63.64 per month for 40 round trips on 20 work days. Plus, she's paying $80 instead of $40 to park on those 20 days. So that's $170 vs. $103.64 -- a whopping 64% increase in her monthly commuting costs! Pauline, try car-pooling to the garage.