Thursday, March 14, 2013

Sun-Times: CTA OKs price hikes for passes for college students, fees geared toward tourist

Changes are abound at CTA for college students and those of you who pay cash for fare especially on the L:
CTA board members Wednesday signed off on two price hikes of more than 30 percent — one affecting college students; the other expected to impact tourists and infrequent L riders.

As of this fall, the board agreed to raise the cost of U-Passes used by full-time college students from 81-cents to $1.07 a day ­— a 32 percent price increase.

It also approved a $3 fare for L passengers who choose to buy one-way tickets with cash once the plastic-card-dominant Ventra payment system starts this summer. That’s 33 percent more than the $2.25 fare the same one-ride passenger would pay now — or in the future if using a plastic Ventra card with a special chip.

The U-Pass price change could affect up to 130,000 full-time students at 52 colleges who now can use the deeply-discounted transit cards for unlimited daily rides. Usually, CTA officials said, universities embed the cost of U-Passes in student fees but do not have to do so.

The price change translates into a $15 increase per U-Pass per semester, and is intended to offset “higher operational expenses,’’ but still reflects a great value, CTA officials said. U-Pass rates have not increased in three years, they noted.
Starting this fall, new U-Passes will be in the form of new plastic Ventra payment cards which will also feature student photos and names.

A new five-year contract agreement approved Wednesday also requires schools to pay a $5 fee per Ventra card up front, but it’s up to schools to decide if they want to pass that cost on to students, CTA officials said.

CTA President Forrest Claypool told reporters the U-Pass hike was tied to the expiration of the U-Pass contract, rather than the new Ventra system.

The new contract is for five years and, for the first time, will give students access to not only the CTA but also Pace. Plus, some certificate-granting post-secondary schools may be offering U-Passes.

Meanwhile Wednesday, CTA Board members agreed to charge riders who choose to buy a one-way rail ride with cash $3 once Ventra launches this summer. The amount reflects the cost of a $2.25 one-way rail ride, a 25-cent transfer ­— whether used or not, and a 50-cent “convenience fee’’ for producing a disposable paper ticket with the same special chip contained in new plastic Ventra cards.

CTA officials said they expected tourists and infrequent riders to use one-ride cash L tickets and regular riders to opt for payment by Ventra cards.
Want to know more about the Ventra system you can visit this page:

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