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Metra to Vote on Fare Hikes Today [UPDATED]

By Chuck Sudo in News on Nov 11, 2011 3:40PM

Photo by tncountryfan

Metra's Board of Directors is set to vote today on fare increases an average of 25 percent they say are necessary to close a budget gap of $53.6 million.

If approved the fare increases would go into effect in Feb. 2012. [You can view Metra's proposed budget here (pdf)]. In a statement last month, Metra cited a litany of factors for the fare hikes.

Metra has been warning for months that it faces a budget deficit next year due to a spike in diesel fuel prices, the demands of meeting new federal regulations, higher insurance premiums and a variety of other rising costs. Meanwhile, proceeds from the regional transportation sales tax have fallen short of expectations due to the faltering economy. And Metra has decided to stop diverting funds from its capital budget, meant for infrastructure improvements, to plug holes in its operating budget. That practice helped Metra get through tough times until now, but simply is not sustainable given our critical capital needs.

Metra did reduce their deficit by $17.5 million through locking in the price of 75 percent of its fuel needs, making administrative cuts and finding other operational efficiencies, which they say reduced the size of the fare by seven percentage points. But under the proposed fare increases (see the table below) a trip from Ogilvie Transportation Center downtown to Evanston will spike from $3.50 to $4.25, a spike of nearly 16 percent. Ten-ride tickets will go up an average of 30 percent, and monthly passes will increase an average of 29.4 percent.

2012 Metra Budget Fare Tables

[Update]: Metra's board of directors voted in favor of the rate hike by unanimous decision.