Metra CEO: Rail Agency May Hike Fares, Impose Service Cuts

CHICAGO (WBBM) — Fuel prices are driving Metra to consider emergency fare hikes and service cuts, possibly as early as July. 

Metra budgeted for diesel fuel in 2011, expecting to pay $2.35 a gallon. The prices January first were $2.62 and they have done nothing but increase until the past few days.

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Agency CEO Alex Clifford says that downtick is the only reason he’s hesitating, and wants another month to assess the situation. 

“While 30 days is probably not enough to really know what a trend is, it will give us a little more information to make a really good business decision,” he said.

Metra last increased fares in February 2010, an increase averaging 10 percent.  It has never imposed a mid-year fare increase coupled with service cuts. 

But if fuel prices stay at today’s $3.24, Metra is staring at a projected deficit of $19.9 million. Higher-than-anticipated sales tax revenues could help, but Clifford says Metra cannot cut its way out, even if prices stay steady.

Complicating the budgeting issue is the Regional Transportation Authority’s mandate that Metra recover 55 percent of its costs through the farebox. Sales tax revenues do not count toward the 55 percent, and Clifford said Metra may ask the RTA for an exemption.      

He said if it were not for the unexpected rise in fuel prices, Metra would have a budget surplus of several million dollars. 

In order to meet its budget, diesel fuel prices would have to average $2.02 a gallon for the rest of 2011. Clifford called that “highly unlikely.”

  • Frank

    The way Metra could make tons of money is ONE SEAR ONE TICKET.
    For all the seat hogs that need anywheere from twoto four they pay for them . And if the pay for them on the train when a agent is on duty the $3.00 additional fee would apply/ Let them pay $25 to $50 for the four seats thary take up.
    Also Metra should borrow a an idea from the airline, if you are extr large you pay for two seats/

    • Jackie

      I guess you did not get a seat.

  • My Gambaru News » Metra CEO: Rail Agency May Hike Fares, Impose Service Cuts

    […] Rail Agency May Hike Fares, Impose Service Cuts 05.13.2011 · Posted in Uncategorized metra – Breaking Headlines Search Results today […]

  • Dave

    I thought Metra was going to get 50 million from the seniors being now charged. I really think that would make up for a lot of the problems or were we lied to again by Chicago. I pay the taxes and live west of Joliet and really have no reason to use the Metra system. From my observations there are not a lot of rich Seniors on Metra. Real rich seniors have private parking down town or drivers for the most part. I am going to vote against everyone who supported the measure to charge Seniors. I really don’t think the news reporters tracked down the real story of waste and abuse.

  • Bill S.

    Why not shut the GD engines off while parked? they idle all day sucking up fuel.

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