Metra Fare-Hike Plan Gets Initial Approval

(CBS) — Metra wants to raise fares for the fourth time in four years, and riders are not happy.

Metra’s board was presented two fare-hike options Wednesday and chose the lesser of the two.

Occasional riders will pay a quarter more for each one way ticket. Monthly riders will see increases of up to $12.50.

Metra told CBS 2’s Roseanne Tellez that this proposed hike might not be the last.

“We said there were going to be possible fare increases for the next 10 years,” said Metra CEO Don Orseno.

Orseno said it was part the of the 10-year plan rolled out in 2014. And sure enough, there have been increases proposed each year.

The proposed hike is up12.6 percent for a 10-ride pass. If you are heading tothe city from the Harvard stop, for example, the ride would go from $96.75 to $104.50.

Monthly passes could go up by 8.4 percent, which means a pass from Naperville to downtown would jump from $99.50 to more than $210.

“I am very upset about it,” said rider, Sally Garetto. “This will be four years in a row our service on this electric line has not improved one bit.”

Metra CEO Don Orseno commemorated the 40th anniversary of Metra locomotives by touting the cost savings of restoring them. He also called state and federal budget cuts, mandates for equipment upgrades and employee related expenses a perfect storm.

Some riders were understanding.

“I think it’s just a sign of the times we have to pay a little bit more for the same service,” said rider, Ed Kirkpatrick. “Nothing stays the same.”

Others not so much…

Pam, a rider who lives in Edison Park, tells WBBM’s Bob Roberts she knows what she will do.

“I’ll start taking the CTA,” she said.

Another rider, Michael Una, said the increases are steep enough to prompt some riders to switch to personal cars and other options that are “not the best for us, collectively.”

Metra said the costs of materials and personnel have increased, including a federally mandated automatic train stop system designed to prevent accidents.

The fare increase still faces public hearings and votes by the Metra and RTA boards. If approved, the fare hike would take effect in 2018. Metra would still have a $45 million dollar budget hole to fill, with service cuts.

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