Beginning on July
1, the cost of a one-way fare on the South Shore commuter railroad will
increase 25 cents. And it’ll increase again, by the same amount, one year
later, on July 1, 2017.
5-percent fare hike--a 2.5 percent bump in the first year, another 2.5
percent in the second--was approved by the Northern Indiana Commuter
Transportation District’s Board of Trustees at its meeting Friday morning.
Riders boarding at
Dune Park Station and taking the train to Chicago will see the cost of a
one-way ticket rise from $8.00 to $8.25 ($8.50 on July 1, 2017). Commuters
will see their monthly cost rise from $228 to $233.75 ($239.75 on July 1,
2017). Monthly ticket prices will be effective on all July monthly tickets
going on sale in mid-June, NICTD said.
by the fare increase--which General Manager Michael Noland estimated at $1
million annually when the full 5 percent has kicked in--will be used
strictly for infrastructure work and grant matches. “Just capital projects,”
Noland said. “No salaries. No supplies. Just brick-and-mortar.”
There is some
urgency to the hike, Noland has noted, inasmuch as the $80 million it will
cost to install the federally mandated positive train control system will
exhaust NICTD’s bonding capacity.
A total of 21
people attended a series of public hearings on the proposed hike earlier
this spring, most of whom supported the increase, Noland said on Friday.
Meanwhile, 33 others submitted written comments, mostly objecting to it, on
several grounds: that it follows too closely on the heels of last year’s
hike, for example, and that there’ve been no service improvements since the
Noland took issue
with both. In the last year alone, he said, NICTD has introduced the popular
Sunrise Express; it’s installed WiFi in all train cars; and it’s introduced
a pilot bikes-on-trains program. NICTD is also eyeball deep right now in the
installation of higher-speed universal crossovers at three locations, which
Noland said will make South Shore travel both safer and more efficient.
New Family Policy
In other business,
the board voted unanimously to significantly liberalize the South Shore’s
Under the old
policy, one child under 14 could ride free with each adult on
off-peak weekend and all weekend/holiday trains. Under the liberalized
policy, up to three children may now ride free with each adult, again
on off-peak and all weekend-holiday trains.
The new policy will
take effect on July 1.
The board also
voted unanimously to implement a pilot quiet-car program, under which the
last car on all morning and afternoon rush-hour trains will be a designated
That means that,
in that car, riders’ cell-phone ringers and notifications must be turned
off; electronic devices muted; conversations kept brief and whispered; and
headphones or earbuds turned down. Persons wishing to take a call or have a
conversation will be expected to move to another car.
Noland did say that
neither the conductors nor the Transit Police will actually be enforcing
quiet-car rules. On the contrary, he said, “peer pressure is what generates
success of performance.”
RTA Transit Benefit
took a moment once again to promote the RTA Transit Benefit Program, under
which commuters can now save up to 40 percent more on their commuting costs,
when their employer is enrolled in the program.
Because the money
commuters set aside for commuting costs doesn’t count as income, the program
allows it to be automatically deducted from commuters’ paychecks. That
means, in the long run, they’re taking home more money by paying less in
information, visit mytransitbenefit.org