Regional Agency Nudges CTA Toward Fare Hike

(CBS) — The Regional Transportation Authority is telling the CTA that after nine years, it’s time for a general fare increase.

As recently as Sept. 13, CTA President Dorval Carter told WBBM a fare hike was his “last resort,” that he had a “talented staff” that could eliminate the $30 million curveball the state threw when it imposed a permanent 2 percent sales tax collection fee. Other problems include slow sales tax growth.

The budget overview the CTA provided the RTA Oct. 23 kept Carter’s promise, but a lot the difference was to come from a new fee imposed on ride-shares, a funding source that was supposed to go toward capital projects.

RTA Executive Director Leanna Redden wrote Carter last week that the new fee was untried, and therefore unreliable, and said her board would probably reject it as a result.

The RTA, under state law, must recover half of its expenses through the farebox.  Metra and Pace have both submitted to the RTA for approval 2018 operating budgets that call for fare increases.

Carter said Sept. 13 that he hoped to avoid fare increases for two years.

“Fare increases, while onerous, are the most reliable way to generate revenue,” Redden wrote. “The RTA strongly encourages CTA to implement a fare increase for 2018 sufficient to bringing the preliminary operating budget into balance.”

CTA last raised base fares in 2009. It is expected to unveil its budget plan next week, more than a month behind schedule.  Absence of an RTA-approved budget by Feb. 1 would trigger the withholding of 25 percent of state funding, a $360 million hole that Redden wrote would result “in immediate service disruptions.”

 

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