Good news, commuters: The CTA unveiled its proposed 2015 budget early this morning, revealing that fares and passes will remain frozen at their current prices. The budget also discloses the CTA's plans to slightly increase Blue and Orange Line service during rush hour next year. The $1.44 billion operating budget (up from $1.38 billion in 2014) is banking on ridership gains in the coming year, blaming a projected decrease in ridership this year on last winter's extreme weather. Of course, the budget will need to be approved by the CTA board before it goes into effect.
With bus ridership on the decline, the CTA is focusing its financial resources on maintaining and upgrading its rail services, including the $492 million upgrade of the northern section of the Blue Line and the $203 rehab of the Wilson Red Line station. Stations and tracks aren't the only things being updated—proposals are currently being accepted from manufacturers interested in building new 7000 Series train cars which are scheduled to join the CTA's fleet as early as 2018. While the CTA budget presumably allocates funds for the purchase of additional clean diesel Nova Buses, it makes no specific mention of the proposed Bus Rapid Transit route on Ashland, a $160 million project that has been controversial with area residents due to the drastic changes it could bring to the corridor. For now, let's just celebrate the absence of fare hikes.