How to get a break on your CTA fares

January 23, 2012|By Tracy Swartz, RedEye

Riding the CTA doesn't have to be so taxing.

Workers in Cook County can set aside a portion of their income before taxes to pay for their CTA card under the Transit Ridership Improvement Program.

The incentive program benefits employees, who don't pay taxes on the amount of money used to purchase the card, and employers, who are paid $30 for any new employee who signs up for the benefits, according to the Center for Neighborhood Technology, a local environmental group that helps administer the program. Enrollment for businesses to receive incentives ends Feb. 10.

There's a complex formula to determine how much money a commuter can save by enrolling. It takes into account federal and state taxes and the amount of public transportation rides purchased each month.

A CTA rider who buys a $86 unlimited pass each month through the program can save $432 in taxes annually, according to calculations by the Regional Transportation Authority, the funding arm for CTA, Metra and Pace.

The program, which relies on federal stimulus funds, began in March 2011. Nearly 200 Chicagoland companies, mostly small business, participate.

Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle last week handed out checks for more than $700 to two Chicagoland companies that enrolled.

The average incentive check for employers has been about $400 while the largest check was for $2,060, according to the Center for Neighborhood Technology.

Status update

The CTA is holding two meetings next month to update riders on the project to modernize the Purple Line and Red Line north of the Belmont stop. Proposals have included closing some stations. The first meeting will be held from 5-7:30 p.m. Feb. 6 at the Evanston Public Library, 1703 Orrington Ave. A second meeting will be from 5-7:30 p.m. Feb. 7 at the Broadway Armory, 5917 N. Broadway.

Talk to us

Mayor Emanuel announced last week that design work will soon begin on a Green Line station at Cermak Road near State Street to provide easier access to McCormick Place. A station at 18th Street had been considered in lieu of the Cermak Road site. Which is the better option? Send an email to tswartz@tribune.com. Please include your full name, age and neighborhood.

Stationary

A weekly dispatch from a CTA station of note

This week: Davis Purple Line

The Davis stop has been attracting some unwanted, unpaying guests for awhile: Pigeons. Though the CTA has employed spikes to dissuade pigeons from loitering and posted signs reminding riders that there's a fine for feeding birds, the Davis stop could be renamed "wing stop." On Monday morning, five pigeons sunned themselves under the heat lamps on the southbound platform. Guess no one told them the Purple Line is Wildcat territory.

Next up: Rosemont Blue Line.

RedEye Chicago Articles
|
|
|