Should the CTA be free? Examining transit cost burden on low-income Chicagoans

Source: Richard A. Chapman | Chicago Sun-Times.

The Chicago Reader quotes Matt Wilson, economic development planner in UIC’s Great Cities Institute, about the financial burden of transit fares for low-income residents and the feasibility of a free ride program.

Matt Wilson, an economic development planner with the Great Cities Institute, told me the think tank’s research for Active Trans found that in lower-income communities on the south and west sides, the annual cost of buying CTA monthly passes ($1,260) is more than 5 percent of the per capita income for the total employed population. In Little Village the figure is 11.6 percent, and in the Altgeld Gardens area the number is 15.1 percent—a major financial burden.

Wilson added that it would be “incredibly hard” to measure whether reducing transit fares could pay for itself in terms of lower societal costs. “I would imagine that if CTA or the city was to subsidize fares, it would be more of an investment for the social benefit of Chicagoans, not something where cost is intended to be recovered.”

Read the full story here.