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Metra Train Fares Increase Next February

Norman Parish | 11/18/2015, 2:45 p.m.
Dorian Lofton regularly rides the Metra train from his home in Matteson, Ill., to his job as a teacher in ...
The Metra Board of Directors approved last week a 2 percent average fare increase. The new fares begin Feb. 1.

Dorian Lofton regularly rides the Metra train from his home in Matteson, Ill., to his job as a teacher in downtown Chicago.

 He likes the commuter train’s bathrooms. But he begrudges their repeated price increases. Earlier this year, Metra’s fares went up by 10 percent.

Well, last week, Lofton’s grudge returned: The Metra Board of Directors approved a 2 percent average fare increase in its $945.5 million budget.

“I think it sucks,” said Lofton about the fare hike. “It seems like every year it goes up and up.”

 Metra’s monthly pass will increase by $2.50, the 10-ride ticket by $1.75 and one-way ticket by a quarter.

 The hike is being used to pay for a portion of the federally mandated and unfunded Positive Train Control (PTC) safety system, a system that takes over portions of the train if its engineer makes a mistake while steering.

 The increase also helps fund the capital budget.

“We promised our customers we would hold the line on spending and avoid higher fares whenever possible,” Metra Board Chairman Martin J. Oberman said. “This budget does both. Now, it’s time for our leaders in Springfield to do their part so the $400 million in Metra capital projects that are currently on hold can move forward.”

 The capital budget includes $85.4 million for railcar and locomotive work; $23.9 million for replacing or improvement ties, ballast, crossings and bridges and other track and structure work, $36.9 million for signal, electrical and communications work, $17 million for facilities and equipment; $13.2 million in station and parking improvements; and $9.3 million in support activities.

 About $106 million will be used for Metra’s modernization plan – railcars, locomotives and PTC system.

Earlier this year, Metra considered increasing next year’s fares by 5 percent instead of the 2 percent hike that starts next February.

Brittany Medlin, of Richton Park, Ill., regularly rides the Metra train with her 9-year-old son, Christopher.  Medlin, 28, says the latest fare increase is too high.

Brittany Medlin, of Richton Park, Ill., regularly rides the Metra train with her 9-year-old son, Christopher. Medlin, 28, says the latest fare increase is too high.

 During the last few years, there have been several Metra fare increases. For example, there was a 29 percent hike in 2012 and a 6 percent increase for one way fares and $2 increase for weekend fares in 2010.

 “Metra is already ridiculously expensive,” said Brittany Medlin, 28, of Richton Park, Ill. who pays $185 for a monthly ticket to travel to attend college near Chicago’s downtown. “This just makes it harder to live.”

 But not everyone is opposed to the latest fare hike.

 Paula Foster, 48, who regularly rides Metra from her Chicago Hyde Park neighborhood to the city’s downtown for her accountant’s job, said: “I’m OK with the increase. I prefer Metra over CTA.”