CHICAGO — Let them drive.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel defended a series of proposed transit fare hikes Monday, saying that if commuters don't like the new rates, they can use their cars.
Last week, CTA President Forrest Claypool unveiled the 2013 budget, which included price hikes for one-, three-, seven-, and 30-day passes as well as an increase for riders traveling into the city from O'Hare International Airport.
But the $1.39 billion budget does not raise the base fare for riders, which will remain $2.25.
Emanuel, speaking at an unrelated news conference Monday morning, repeatedly stressed that standard fare for riders would remain the same for the next four years, while the same could not be said about gasoline prices.
"The standard fare stays the same, and energy prices at the pump do not, and that is a choice the commuter will pick which way they want to get to work," Emanuel said. "Right now, [gas prices] are dropping, and if you’re willing to take a bet like that over the next four years, we’ll see."
Under the CTA's proposed budget, a one-day pass will go from $5.75 to $10, three-day passes from $14 to $20, seven-day passes from $23 to $28 and 30-day passes from $86 to $100.
When asked why the prices of some passes rose more steeply than others, Emanuel said the differences are reflections of the "different ways people buy" the passes.
"People that buy the seven-day versus the 30-day are different, and a lot of them get different subsidies, and they were adjusted accordingly," he said.
The CTA will also add a $2.75 surcharge on one-way riders boarding at O'Hare, raising the fee to $5. Both Emanuel and Claypool said that increase will mainly affect tourists and business travelers, and both said the new rate is still very competitive compared to other major cities.