After touting two about-to-begin facelifts at Northwest Side Blue Line stations, CTA President Dorval Carter on Tuesday morning said he has no plans to raise bus and train fares again.
“We don’t have any plans for any fare increases in the near future; we just did a fare increase this year,” Carter said.
A 25-cent increase took effect in January for bus and rail riders, the first such increase in nine years.
“We never take it lightly,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who also attended the news conference.
With a lack of state transportation funding that hit the CTA’s operating budget this year “it came to a point where we had to do what we had to do,” he said.
Carter and Emanuel spoke to reporters at a ground breaking ceremony for modernization projects at the Belmont and Jefferson Park stations, which also serve as bus hubs.
The projects are part of the Your New Blue program, which aims to rehabilitate the stations on the O’Hare Branch of the Blue Line with a budget of $492 million.
The $17 million Belmont station rehab will include a new glass and steel canopy that “reflects the unique style and charm of the Avondale community,” Carter said. Upgrades will also be made to the bus turnaround, station house and platform. Work is scheduled for completion later this year.
The Jefferson Park station, an important hub for multiple bus routes and Metra trains, will undergo $25 million in improvements. Construction will include new stairs, escalators, canopies, lighting, paint and platform upgrades. Work to the station will be complete later this year, while updates to the bus terminal will be finished in 2019.
Rehab projects have been completed at the following Blue Line stops:Damen, Western, California, Addison, Irving Park, Montrose, Harlem and Cumberland.
The CTA has yet to begin projects at the Blue Line’s Logan Square, Division, Chicago and Grand subway stations.
Construction plans also call for track and signal modernization along the 12-mile stretch of the Blue Line that connects the Loop to O’Hare International Airport. Funding for the project comes from state and federal sources.
Contributing: Sun-Times Wire