Universal fare card unpopular



Date of Publication: October 30, 2001
Source: Chicago Sun-Times


Top transit officials splashed cold water Monday on the idea of creating a universal fare card that could be used by CTA, Metra and Pace riders.

The $100 million-plus cost to make it work is too high given the sliding economy--made more uncertain by the events of Sept. 11--and existing infrastructure needs, Regional Transportation Authority Chairman Thomas McCracken said at a legislative hearing in the Loop.

"I don't know that I can say that I foresee it," said McCracken, whose agency oversees the other three. "I think we have to listen to all of the service boards' views on it as well, and my understanding is that the consensus among us all is that we have other priorities at this time."

State Rep. Julie Hamos (D-Chicago), however, said the agencies aren't doing enough to coordinate what is now woefully fragmented service. Integrating the fare system is one way--linking stations, schedules and signs are others--to make travel more seamless, and she said she doesn't buy the argument that it would cater to the few customers who rely on two or more transit agencies to reach a destination.

Meanwhile, RTA officials revealed the transit agencies could face a collective $22 million shortfall by the end of the year because of drooping sales tax revenues. That deficit will be covered by a "rainy day fund" for now.