Written by The Chicago Defender
HUMBOLDT PARK—At the final CTA budget hearing, several residents challenged the CTA's recently proposed fare increase, saying the increase unfairly affects low-income individuals.
The proposed increase would raise the price of day, weekly and monthly passes, while freezing single rider base fares. Blue Line trips from O'Hare International Airport would also increase, from $2.25 to $5.
About 40 people were present for Monday's meeting at Westinghouse College Prep, but of those only about 10 appeared to be residents and not affiliated with CTA.
In November, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, Mayor Rahm Emanuel told commuters, "you can either drive to work or you can take public transportation."
"I mean, I don't know what world he's living in," Darlene Hale, a 46-year-old South Shore resident, told the board with regard to the mayor's statement.
Hale said she thought the fare increases were unfairly targeting low income groups who don't own cars and must rely on the bus and "L" trains for transportation.
"Their only choice is riding public transportation or walking," she said.
Jose A. Zayas, a 63-year-old Logan Square resident and longtime social worker, agreed.
"Mayor Emanuel stated a few weeks ago that if people didn't like the increases that they should drive," he told board members. "Many of these people that I worked with don't have cars and depend on public transportation."
In the past, the CTA has drawn from its infrastructure funds to cover its operating costs. This is the second budget under CTA President Forrest Claypool that would avoid doing that.
Monday's budget hearing comes right on the heels of the "Crowding Reduction Plan," CTA's attempt to supply additional bus and rail service during crowded rush hours.
The plan is "the equivalent of $16 million" in added services "at no additional cost to taxpayers and riders," according to a CTA press release.
The board is scheduled to vote on the budget December 18.