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Photograph: Courtesy Chicago Transit Authority

Riding the CTA will likely get cheaper in 2022

Nearly all unlimited ride passes are getting a price cut and the fee for train and bus transfers has been eliminated.

Zach Long
Written by
Zach Long

UPDATE (Nov 19): The price reduction for 30-day passes and CTA/Pace 7-day passes will go into effect on Sunday, November 21. The 25-cent transfer fee charged when switching between CTA buses and trains will also be eliminated on that date.

With Chicago Transit Authority ridership still at roughly half of pre-pandemic levels, the public transit operator is pulling out all the stops to encourage more folks to hop on trains and buses in 2022. This morning, the CTA released its proposed 2022 operating budget and there's plenty of good news for anyone looking to save a few bucks while commuting via train or bus.

The biggest news is that the CTA unlimited ride pass price cuts that were introduced over the summer (and were eventually extended through Thanksgiving) are here to stay. That means that you'll be able to snag a one-day pass for $5 (down from $10), a three-day pass for $15 (down from $20) and a seven-day pass for $20 (down from $28) through at least the end of 2022. 

And those aren't the only unlimited passes that are getting a price cut. Beginning in 2022, CTA will offer its 30-day pass for $75 (down from $105), a 30-day reduced fare pass for $35 (down from $50) and the CTA-Pace seven-day pass for $25 (down from $33). For most of 2021, buying seven-day passes for $20 ($80 for 28 days of unlimited rides) has been a much better deal than paying $105 for a 30-day pass, but the 2022 price cut to the full fare 30-day pass will once again make it the more economical option for daily riders.

Another big change will be the elimination of the $0.25 fee that CTA riders have paid when transferring between trains and buses during a two-hour period. In 2022, all riders will receive two free transfers within a two-hour period of their first paid ride, making it cheaper to switch between trains and buses during a trip.

The reduced fares are no doubt contributing to a projected $456 million gap in the CTA's 2022 budget, but the transit agency is hoping to use federal funding from the American Rescue Plan to continue offering full service. The Regional Transit Board, which oversees CTA, Metra and Pace, is scheduled to review and approve the CTA's 2022 operating budget in December.

The CTA also revealed details of its 2022-2026 Capital Improvement Program, which calls for $3.5 billion to fund modernization and improvement of the transit agency's physical infrastructure. According to a release, the funding will be used to extend the Red Line to the Far South Side, make all CTA stations accessible, purchase electric buses and continue to refresh CTA stations throughout the city, among other projects.

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