CHICAGO (CBS) – Get ready, Metra riders.

The cash-strapped rail agency is finalizing plans for rate hikes that could reach as high as 25 percent, CBS 2 has learned. A formal vote by Metra’s board could come Friday.

Metra’s executive director reportedly is preparing to propose the biggest fare hikes in Metra’s history – all part of a plan to close a $100 million budget deficit. But as of Thursday, there was no agreement between the Metra staff and board on the exact size of the increase.

Administrators reportedly want fare hike of up to 25 percent if there are no service cuts. Board members oppose service cuts and want to limit hikes to 10 percent, CBS 2’s Derrick Blakley reports.

“Ouch – 25 percent,” commuter George Cortez said. “Our normal increases are 3 to 4 percent for wages. Twenty-five percent is a killer.”

Any increases would take effect in February.

Meanwhile, CBS 2 has learned that agency executive director Alex Clifford will recommend extending the controversial contract of consultant George Avery Grimes, who has already been paid $250,000. Clifford wants to extend the deal another six months for another $250,000.

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