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No fare hikes or service cuts set for CTA, Metra, Pace

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Updated: November 20, 2013 6:10AM

Transit riders are due for a reprieve next year, with the CTA, Metra and Pace all proposing budgets without any fare increases or service cuts.

The anticipated break for riders comes after the CTA increased prices on passes this year and eliminated some bus routes--although it added service elsewhere. In February, Metra discontinued the discount on its popular 10-ride ticket — a move one Metra Board member questioned Friday.

At the CTA, officials Friday released what spokeswoman Tammy Chase called “a good-news budget.’’

The CTA’s proposed spending plan for fiscal year 2014 provides for $1.38 billion in operations and an additional $718 million in capital — part of $4 billion in capital projects since Mayor Rahm Emanuel installed a team headed by CTA President Forrest Claypool in 2011.

Next year’s projects include upgrading the 95th Street station, reconstruction of the Wilson Red Line station and elevated track improvements on the Brown/Purple Line between Chicago and Armitage.

The CTA is still working on eliminating a 2013 $10 million deficit but expects to do so by the end of the year, Chase said.

A public hearing on the proposed CTA spending plan is slated for 6 p.m. Nov. 12, at CTA headquarters, 567 W. Lake.

At Metra, board members Friday approved the release of a proposed $935.9 million budget, including $728.6 million in operations. Operations spending was up $12 million, or $1.7 percent, due to projected price increases in labor, benefits, rents, materials and other costs associated with operating the commuter rail service, officials said.

Pace’s suburban bus and regional paratransit services were proposing a $374 million operating budget, with another $57 million in capital spending that includes 43 new buses, 80 new paratransit buses and 177 vanpool buses.

At Metra, for the first time since the controversial June 21 buyout of ex-CEO Alex Clifford, a full complement of 11 board members voted on the agency’s proposals. Brian Reaves, the mayor of Lemont, was so newly appointed to the Metra Board that officials only had time to put a paper nameplate in front of him at Friday’s meeting. He was approved by south Cook County board members on Thursday to fill the seat of former chairman Brad O’Halloran.

Joining Reaves for their first Metra meeting as board members were former 43rd Ward Ald. Martin Oberman, appointed by Emanuel; former CTA rail operations executive Romayne Brown, appointed by Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle; and former CTA emergency preparedness expert John Plante, appointed by north suburban Cook County Board members.


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