08/11/2011 11:51 am ET Updated Oct 11, 2011

CTA Fare Hikes On Hold For 2011: Claypool To Add Concessions, Ads And Sponsorships

A CTA fare hike will not factor into transit President Forrest Claypool’s strategy to balance the $102.7 million shortfall in state funding this year, but Claypool has offered no assurances about 2012, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

The long-struggling transit agency announced yesterday two new revenue-generating strategies: the addition of 10 concession and convenience stores along the Red, Blue, Brown and Orange lines, and a contract authorizing IMG International to explore the viability of corporate sponsorships and naming rights on CTA property and programs.

This is the third consecutive month that the CTA has awarded additional contracts, bringing the total number of leased vendor spaces to 84. Claypool says the 10-year contracts will generate a total of more than $1.6 million, according to a press release issued Wednesday.

That revenue will augment $18 million in spending cuts made since Claypool was appointed in mid-April.

“Everybody knows the magnitude of the financial problems,” Claypool told the Sun-Times. The CTA has borrowed $554 million for the past several years from the RTA, from the state and from its own capital budget. That’s what’s masked the deficits the last few years.”

The IMG contract offers the company commission-based compensation in exchange for unpaid market research in early development stages. Potential commercial assets the group has identified so far include the Bus and Train Tracker applications, Penny Rides on New Year’s Eve and the Holiday Train, as well as physical property that could host advertisements or sponsorships like recycle bins, heating lamps and benches at bus stops and train platforms.