Pace raises bus fares, blames state budget
Pace bus riders can expect a 25-cent fare increase in 2018 along with other changes to offset an estimated $12 million shortfall, officials said.
On Wednesday, Pace directors voted for a $232 million operating budget and the first fare hike since 2009.
It means a fixed-route rider would pay $2 instead of $1.75 with a Ventra card, and a passenger paying in cash would pay $2.25 instead of $2. Monthly passes would remain the same. About 60 percent of riders use single fares.
Paratransit rides will go up to $3.25 from $3, although subsidized taxi rides, known as the Taxi Access Program, will remain at $3.
In addition, premium express bus routes such as the I-55 Bus on Shoulder will increase to $4.50 from $4. Transfers to premium buses will rise to 30 cents from 25 cents.
No bus routes will be cut or reduced, Pace planners said, explaining that riders have pushed back against losing service.
The budget hole resulted from lackluster sales tax revenue, a cut in state funds and a fee imposed by the state government for transferring money to Pace, Metra and the CTA, administrators said.
Pace Chairman Richard Kwasnewski acknowledged the changes would be hard for some riders and said it wasn't done lightly.
The bus agency has instituted a hiring freeze and is raising health insurance rates for nonunion employees.
The state budget approved by legislators resulted in $77 million being slashed from the three transit agencies, including about $4 million from Pace.
The agency's capital budget is $61.8 million with about $27.7 million going toward purchasing new buses, paratransit and vanpool vehicles.
Pace will also fix overcrowding on its I-55 Bus on Shoulder program, provide a Bus Tracker system offering real-time information, complete park-n-ride lots on I-90 at Barrington Road and Route 25, build a park-n-ride lot in Plainfield, and offer a Bus on Shoulder route on the Edens Expressway.