CHICAGO -- Talk was far from cheap at the Chicago Transit Authority headquarters Thursday morning as officials laid out a plan to hike fares in every category beginning the first of the year.
In its 2009 budget recommendations, the CTA says a sluggish economy and high costs for diesel fuel will force a fare increase for 2009.
Cash fares will be raised 25-cents per ride and pass fares will bounce by 20 percent. That means a full fare bus ride goes from $1.75 to $2.
Rail fares go to $2.25 and the so-called "Chicago Card" bonus of 25-cents will be eliminated.
The Chicago Sun-Times has a straightforward chart which itemizes the proposed changes.
CTA President Ron Huberman told reporters Thursday that fuel costs have skyrocketed and the agency expects that increase to cost them an estimated $54 million. Electricity is up 34 percent; materials are up some $94.8 million; free rides will cost the agency some $35.8 million.
"We've done everything we can to mitigate a fare increase," Huberman said, adding that the costs have made the fare hike unavoidable.
The Regional Transit Authority will have the final say whether or not the proposed fare increase -- which would be the first since Jan. 1, 2006 -- takes effect.
Riders can have their say at a public hearing which will be held at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 29 at CTA headquarters. That's at 567 West Lake Street, just off the Clinton Pink/Green line stop.
News that reaches into the pockets are always talkers, and those leaving comments on sites all over Chicagoland haven't let anyone down.
Chicagoist.com readers have discussed why the CTA hasn't implemented a "zoning" system, where a rider's fare would depend on the distance they travel.
Over at ChicagoBreakingNews.com, commenter "Sandi" says she finds the agency's "crying that they have no money a little bit 'strange,'" pointing to idle buses wasting gas and multiple buses on the same route with few passengers on them.
Others have discussed circumventing the system, illegally, by cloning cards, which wouldn't help the CTA's money problems at all, but we're just sayin'...
As of this update, at 7:05 p.m., the CTA Tattler Web site was strangely quiet on the issue.