As South Side and south suburban Chicago Transit Authority riders figure out the best way to get to work and other activities Monday without Red Line Dan Ryan service, a new analysis shows that the CTA's fare increases for one-day and seven-day passes have hit minority and low-income customers hardest.
The federally mandated civil rights review conducted by the transit agency focused on the effect of the Jan. 14 increases in CTA pass prices. It found that minorities and low-income individuals pay their fares with cash or buy one-day passes and seven-day passes at a higher rate than other CTA customers.
Tabulated from customer surveys, the results are in line with the long-held assumption that it is harder for low-income individuals to prepay their fares by doling out the money for more deeply discounted 30-day passes or setting aside transit funds in pre-loaded smart cards such as the Chicago Cards.
The cost of a CTA 30-day pass increased at the smallest rate, 16 percent, but it is priced at $100, up from $86 previously.
Despite the hike in pass prices, which ranged as high as 74 percent for a 1-day pass, from $5.75 to $10, the analysis concluded that the CTA successfully "minimized or mitigated disproportionately high and adverse impacts" on minority and low-income populations.
It noted, however, that fares will increase for about 52 percent of minority and low-income customers.
Overall, pass customers represent about half the riders on CTA buses and trains, according to the transit agency.
The survey data also indicated that 71 percent of CTA customers are minorities and 29 percent are low-income, based on federal poverty guidelines.
The analysis compared the "burden between low-income users and overall users" in connection with the fare hikes, which affected all types of passes but not the regular base fares of $2 for bus and $2.25 for rail rides. The base fares have remained the same since 2010.
The study found the highest differences in the number of free-rides passes issued, followed by seven-day pass usage.
Twenty-three percent of low-income CTA riders and 19 percent of minority individuals used seven-day passes, compared with 15 percent of CTA customers overall, according to the findings.
The seven-day pass increased 22 percent in price this year, to $28 from $23.
One-day passes are used by 11 percent of low-income CTA riders and 9 percent of minority riders, compared with 7 percent of riders overall, the results showed.
Conversely, low-income CTA customers account for 6 percent of 30-day pass purchases, compared with 12 percent for minority riders and 15 percent of overall customers, the review said.
Reduced-fare and free-rides passes are also used by minorities more than by all customers, according to the analysis.
The survey found no significant differences in the use of three-day passes among low-income, minority and CTA customers overall. The three-day pass price increased 43 percent, to $20 from $14. It is used widely by visitors to Chicago but represents only about 1.5 percent of CTA fare-card usage, the study said.
The review, conducted by the CTA under federal guidelines, concluded that the fare increases imposed to help erase a $165 million shortfall in this year's CTA budget are in compliance with Title VI and environmental justice requirements of the Civil Rights Act. Title VI prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color or national origin in programs or activities receiving federal aid, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
The CTA report detailing the analysis noted that "low-income populations are not a protected class under Title VI," but the Federal Transit Administration requires transit agencies to evaluate the effects of fare changes on low-income populations.
The increases in pass prices and ridership changes are projected to generate an additional $63 million for the transit agency this year, officials said.
"The analysis indicates that while the fare changes will affect minority and low-income populations, they will not cause a disparate impact on minority populations and disproportionate burden on low-income populations," the review said.
Meanwhile, a separate Title VI review on the ridership impact of the CTA crowding-reduction plan implemented in December concluded that minority and below-poverty level populations were more affected than other riders in connection with service cutbacks in weekend rail service on the Forest Park branch of the Blue Line.
The CTA reduced weekend service on the Forest Park branch "for sound business reasons" because of low ridership, officials said.
The "de-crowding" initiative added service to 48 bus routes and six of the eight CTA rail lines, while eliminating 12 bus routes.
The review said the changes did not create a greater negative impact on minorities or the poor compared with other riders in terms of changes to bus routes and rail service other than the Forest Park segment of the Blue Line.
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