Advocacy group recommends CTA, Pace, Metra reduce fares for low-income riders
Working-class people living in the Chicago area are having trouble paying for public transportation, and it's hurting their ability to access work and health care, according to a report released Monday.
Aptly titled Fair Fares Chicagoland, the report lays out a series of policy recommendations to CTA, Pace, Metra and the Regional Transportation Authority on how it can make public transportation more equitable for those living at or below the federal poverty line.
Active Transportation Alliance surveyed nearly 700 people across the South and West Sides of Chicago and in southern Cook County. The nonprofit advocacy group works to improve walking, biking and public transit conditions in the Chicago area. Last year, the organization released letter grades for bus services in all of the city's 50 wards.
Fair Fares Chicagoland recommends creating a 50% reduced transit fare program for residents in Cook, Lake, McHenry, DuPage, Will and Kane counties. The program would benefit those living at or below 200% of the federal poverty line.
The report estimates the program would cost the CTA, Pace and Metra a combined $175 million annually. Meanwhile, the annual savings could add up to $630 for low-income CTA riders; as much as $840 for low-income Pace riders; and $1,650 for low-income Metra riders.
"This report has some good ideas, but the challenge as always is finding a way to pay for them," Metra spokeswoman Meg Thomas-Reile said in a statement.
Thomas-Reile said Metra is working on a pilot program that provides lower fares and transfers for riders on the Metra Electric and Rock Island lines with financial support from Cook County.
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