Higher prices for CTA passes take effect Monday

All types of CTA passes will go up in price Monday, and many regular riders will be doing the math to determine whether the pay-as-you-go fare or an unlimited-ride pass offers the better deal.

The increases in the one-day, three-day, seven-day and 30-day passes are expected to generate an additional $56 million a year for the transit agency, officials said.

But the price hikes, which CTA officials insist on calling reductions in the pass discount compared to the regular full base fare, are also projected to contribute to no growth in overall CTA ridership this year, the Regional Transportation Authority said.

CTA ridership has increased by more than 5 percent over the past 20 months, according to CTA records. Its most recent fare increase was in 2009.

There are still hours to go before the increases in pass prices, which range from a 16 percent hike on the 30-day pass to 74 percent on the one-day pass, take effect Monday. The CTA has taken no action to discourage commuters from buying large numbers of passes before Monday as a way to beat the fare hike, at least for the short term.

Metra, on the other hand, did implement an expiration date to prevent fare card stockpiling prior to an 11 percent increase in 10-ride tickets effective Feb. 1. Metra said 10-ride tickets purchased before Jan. 31 will be valid only through Feb. 28. Metra 10-ride tickets will now cost the same as buying 10 one-way tickets.

Some CTA riders might try another option to delay the inevitable pinch to the pocketbook. Discounted CTA three-day passes that Groupon introduced in June are still available, said Tim DeClaire, head of consumer public relations at Groupon. The Groupon deal is $9 instead of the current CTA price of $14. On Monday, the CTA will be selling its three-day passes for $20.

The three-day passes bought through Groupon will be available until the supply runs out, DeClaire said. According to the group’s website, the limit is four passes per customer, and they must be activated by Sept. 1 and used within 72 hours after activation. The link to the Groupon deal is http://www.groupon.com/deals/chicago-transit-authority-cta.

On Monday, the CTA base fare will remain $2.25, except for Blue Line riders who pay with cash or buy a ticket from a machine to depart from O’Hare International Airport. The new fare from O’Hare will be $5. Chicago Card and Chicago Card Plus riders who do not link their cards to some form of a CTA pass also will pay the $5 fare sometime in July, but airline employees and other workers at O’Hare will continue to pay the lower fare.

A CTA 30-day pass will cost $100, up from $86, and a seven-day pass will increase to $28 from $23. Three-day passes will cost $20, up from $14, and one-day passes will increase to $10 from $5.75.

The CTA/Pace seven-day pass will increase to $33 from $28. The cost of the Metra Link-Up pass, which is used by some commuters transferring between the CTA and Metra during rush periods, will be raised to $55 from $45.

The reduced fare for seniors and disabled people will increase to $1 from 85 cents on buses and to $1.10 on rail. The 30-day reduced-fare pass will increase to $50 from $35. In addition, the 10 percent bonus will be eliminated on reduced-fare prepaid cards.

jhilkevitch@tribune.com

Twitter @jhilkevitch

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