Chicago Sun-Times

Not Paying on the CTA

| 7 Comments | No TrackBacks

I get a lot of phone calls from CTA bus drivers, and the most common complaint I get is that people won't pay when they get on the bus. They're not just talking about free-riding seniors, but people who claim to be active military personnel who won't show their IDs, and students who don't want to show, or don't have, their student IDs. The drivers complain that if they make a fuss about demanding fares, the rider, and often other riders, complain and it gets the driver into trouble. Apparently, the phenomenon of people not paying doesn't just happen at bus stops, as reported here.

I asked CTA spokeswoman Noelle Gaffney about CTA policy for bus drivers who don't get fares. "They're supposed to ask the person to pay nicely, and if they refuse they're supposed to notify the control center but continue in service, and the control center can make a determination with the supervisor what the next steps will be," Gaffney said.

I also asked Gaffney about the problem reported on the Brown Line. She said the CTA is looking at what it's options are to keep people from entering through the exit doors, without paying their fares.

Most bus drivers I talked to say they've given up complaining about people who don't show proper IDs for free or student fares, because it's not worth the hassle. But one long-time driver gave me a contrary view -- he said that he's kicked hundreds of kids off his buses for not paying. He won't be pushed around.

So what do you think, CTA riders? Have you seen people skip the fare, either on the bus or on the train? Do you say something? Does the driver ever say anything? And by the way, has anyone ever told these kids that just because you CAN get away with not paying for something, that doesn't mean you should?

No TrackBacks

TrackBack URL:


I myself, am a Chicago Public School Student who rides the CTA everyday. I feel as if we should ride for free. We have a job, we wake up every morning in Englewood's bad neighborhood and ride the bus. I also would like to know do we get reiumburse for paying our fare as student's because we haven't received any wages yet. In response I attend Richards Career Academy High School on Laflin and the CTA bus drivers who come to our school everyday do thier job well and I respect that. In conclusion I am a excellent student making excellent grades, and I believe student's like that should really ride for free, and it may decrease the drop-out rate, because many kids drop-out of school not because their lazy, but because they don't have any fare for school, and their parents' may not be able to support them. Thank You.......Sincerly Yours, Amber Adams

CPS and CTA should partner to provide students in the public schools with a reduced fare version of the Chicago Card. That would reduce boarding times, as students are currently required to pull out up to three different cards to get on bus at the reduced rate.

All people who ride the CTA should pay the fare. I am unemployed and I purchase a $86 30-Day Pass every month. It is quite an expense but I know that I need mobility in order to look for a job. I resent those passengers who habitually try to ride the bus and act as if they do not have the money to pay. No one should board a CTA bus and expect to receive a "free ride," both figuratively and literally. I also notice that people who are "attractive" looking and who flirt with the CTA busdriver tend to get away with being allowed to ride the bus for free and those who are "unattractive" looking and do not flirt.

there should be a sting on the buses like on the green line @ pulaski & conservatory stations. police on the platform watch as people walk thru without paying then make an arrest. criminal trespass, thief of service, loitering etc.. do the math- that is a loss of 15k a day

I live car-free in Chicago so I rely on buses regularly. The majority of CTA drivers I encounter are quite courteous. In fact, I would say generally they are friendlier than those I've come into contact with elsewhere.

Most probably, the drivers who say it's not worth the hassle are in the majority. It's a tough call; if they report a non-payment incident and the police respond, the bus, along with the driver and passengers, gets delayed; the errant passenger may make threats; the driver might have to do extra paperwork or be a witness; and so forth. Some years ago, drivers couldn't be sure the CTA would support them if they made a complaint; I don't know what it's like now. I would think that electronic surveillance, along with a few well publicized arrests, might reduce the number of occurrences.

No, I don't say anything when I see somebody refuse to pay their bus fare. If they're willing to do that, something worse might be next.

On the other hand, I've complained to Metra a number of times about train employees who are lax in checking the tickets of passengers who want to pay. Because of that, a ten-ride ticket might be good for a dozen or more rides. It's now a moot issue for me, since I'm over 65 and ride for free. On that subject—the transit carriers could generate a lot of cash if the legislature would eliminate the silly free-ride policy (except for people in true need). Paying half-fare again would be just fine with me.

oh boo-hoo...given the lack of courtesy from the vast bulk of cta drivers, perhaps folks should be paid to ride! at least it would reduce the carbon foot print. i've lived around the world, and the service in chicago is by-far the worst anywhere.
and they wanted the olympics???? paleeze....

Leave a comment

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Mary Wisniewski published on February 20, 2010 2:37 PM.

Ride Trivia Answer was the previous entry in this blog.

Body scanners on the way is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.