Wednesday, September 27, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews
Featured image: Commuters boarding a Metra train at the Maywood Metra station. | Spooner Baumann/Spooner Photography
According to historic ridership trends, anywhere from 300 to 400 area commuters board and deboard trains at Metra stations in Bellwood (~150), Maywood (~80) and Melrose Park (~100), located along the Union Pacific West line.
Many of those commuters rely on the trains to get to and from their jobs in Chicago’s Loop and their trips could get more expensive if Metra raises fares for a fourth straight year as planned.
Metra plans to raise the price of all one-way tickets by 25 cents while all 10-ride tickets “would be priced at 9.5 times (up from 9) the one-way ticket price, and all monthly passes would be priced at 29 times (up from 28.5) the one-way ticket price,” according to a recent statement.
“Weekend Passes would increase to $10 from $8, but we are exploring making them valid on Friday evenings, too,” Metra officials stated. “We are also proposing restrictions on reduced fare tickets based on the RTA’s guidance: we would no longer sell reduced fare Monthly Passes. These changes would raise about $22 million.”
Metra said that the fare increases will be accompanied “by cuts in expenses – including service cuts – next year to cover a projected deficit of about $45 million in its 2018 operating budget. This deficit is the result of a cut in subsidies from Springfield (about $13 million), disappointing regional sales tax collections (about $2 million) and normal growth in operating costs (about $30 million).”
“We pay about half of our operating costs with your fares, and the other half with our share of proceeds from a transportation sales tax in the six-county Chicago region and a contribution from the state.
“The RTA had originally expected that public subsidy to total $430 million next year – about $11 million more than 2017. But the RTA has recently amended that forecast to $404 million – about $15 million less than 2017. That’s a $26 million difference. State budget cuts account for about $12 million of that drop, with reduced sales tax proceeds accounting for the rest.”
According to an article by the Better Government Association (BGA), “Metra will be presenting a preliminary budget with the proposed fare increase at 9 a.m. Oct. 6th at 547 West Jackson Blvd on the 13th Floor. There also will be a series of public hearings on the proposed budget. The board will vote to finalize the budget, with the fare increases, at its Nov. 10th meeting.”
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