The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Metra Expects $17 Million Deficit

By Soyoung Kwak in Miscellaneous on Aug 14, 2010 6:30PM

Photo by vxla
Although we are still in the waning summer months, Metra is expecting a $17 million dollar deficit this year due to low ridership. It appears that the hard times are not necessarily over for Metra, as Metra ridership declined 4 percent between June 2009 and June 2010 (with increasing local unemployment to blame for at least part of the decline). It also might be too early to tell what the best way of compensating for the potential losses would be, as Metra is conscious about providing affordable transit without burdening peoples' wallets:
Metra Chairwoman Carole Doris said it’s too early to say whether the agency will have to impose a fare hike for next year, but she would rather not. “We have to look at other ways to reduce expenses,” Doris said, adding that a fare increase would be difficult for riders in this economy.

This announcement coincides with the Metra agreeing to purchase 160 new rail cars for its electric line, which would cost around $560 million. The new rail cars will be paid for with Illinois bond revenue, and will begin service sometime after two years. If you are expecting these new rail cars to come with open bars and dancing girls, you are out of luck. But they seem to be an improvement, nonetheless:

The new cars are similar in design to Metra’s bi-level cars on its diesel-powered trains. About half of the new cars will be equipped with bathrooms — an improvement over the old cars, which had none.

Bathrooms are great and all, but maybe next time they could consider purchasing rail cars with chocolate fountains?