posted at Capitol Fax Blog
CTA’s fares have been going up — in fact, since the 1984 RTA Act, much faster than either the rate of inflation or the cost of driving! That’s because Chicago sales tax revenue have trailed inflation (much less expense growth) since 1984, and the budget’s got to balance somehow. Oh yeah, and operating costs have declined over 10% in real dollars since 1984.
Just because the cost of gas is going up does not magically mean that the cost of transit service should increase at the same rate. Indeed, what you pay to drive is not at all indicative of the real cost of driving. Cars, collectively, are the #1 source of air pollution in our region — but even though asthma hospitalization rates along the Dan Ryan are four times higher than the national average, gas taxes don’t pay for the (also bankrupt) Cook County Hospital. Nor do your gas taxes pay to keep our troops guarding their oil, rebuilding taller levees to protect New Orleans against rising seas, or for funeral costs when children get killed in hit-and-runs. Nope, even we non-drivers pay those costs of your driving.
In fact, some calculations: according to AAA’s annual cost-per-mile estimates, the real cost of driving has dropped 9.9% since 1997 (adjusted for inflation). Meanwhile, as of next week, cash CTA fares will have increased 59.6%. (Not counting the 63% increase, the increase has been 17.6%.) We riders are already paying far more than our share.
* AAA, “Your Driving Costs 2007”
* CTA, “President’s Report on CTA’s Fares and Proposal for the FY2004 Budget”
* CTA, “Revised CTA Fare Structure Effective September 16, 2007”
* Motor Trend Auto News, “Despite Higher Gas Prices, 2005 Driving Costs Nearly Unchanged From 2004” (historical cost estimates from AAA)
* Westegg.com inflation calculator (to inflate to 2006 dollars) and BLS CPI projection (to inflate to 2007 dollars)