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With a New Hike Due in 2013, a Look at 65 Years of CTA Fares

CTA fares are going up again, at least for monthly passes—from $86, the price they’ve been since 2009, to $100. It’s a steep increase, but it actually brings the current fee to about what riders have paid over the past 44 years. Single-ride fares will stay where they are, which is also about average for the past 65 years.

CTA map, 1948


So you’ve probably heard:

CTA base fares will not increase in 2013, but pass prices will go up–and fares from O’Hare International Airport will more than double in cost–under a $1.39 billion budget announced today.

The 30-day pass will increase to $100, from $86 currently.

As usual, I’m interested in whether or not fares have kept up with inflation, at least in terms of what we’ve paid in the past compared to what we’re paying now, and in the immediate future. As you’re probably aware, fees and charges have a tendency to stagnate, because politicians don’t like raising them, and then they play catch-up when the fees cease to have kept up with inflation. I was curious if that happened with CTA fares, so I took the prices for full bus fare (currently $2 with a Chicago Card, though it’s $2.25 for rail) and for monthly passes, and charted them with inflation-adjusted prices in 2012 dollars.

I also averaged the fares in 2012 dollars. $100 is about what CTA riders have paid, on average, since monthly passes were instituted in 1978; the average over that time has been $105.55. Two bucks is also average, given single-ride fares since 1947: Over that period, the average has been $1.99.

(Data comes from Chicagobus.org, this site, and my own research. During the 1980s, monthly passes changed twice during a couple years; for simplicity’s sake, I used the last price adopted.)



Photograph: Eric Fischer (CC by 2.0)


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