Local

Metra won’t raise fares in 2020 despite $5M budget increase

Metra will not raise fares in 2020, according to a news release sent Wednesday.

This is the second year in a row that fares have not gone up.

In addition, the agency also said that it will budget $2.6 billion for capital improvements over the next five years because of the new state capital program. There will be a priority on railcars, locomotives, stations, bridges and service improvements.

“We are happy to give our customers a double dose of good news this budget season,” Metra CEO/Executive Director Jim Derwinski said in a statement.

He said that the agency now has a “significant infustion” of capital dollars to help it begin its backlog of capital work.

According to the release, Metra identified about $5 million in efficiences when searching for ways to control or reduce its operating costs to head off the need for a fare increase. The agency also expects to save about $7 million by not filling vacancies and $9 million by reducing overtime and other miscellaneous expenses.

Metra said these reductions will help offset an expected $26 million increase in operating expenses next year. This includes
$7 million in new expenses associated with a federally mandated safety system called Positive Train Control, along with $19 million in labor and other operating expenses.

The agency’s overall operating budget will increase by $5 million next year, going from $822 million in 2019 to $827 million in 2020. Higher revenues from the regional transportation sales tax will cover the
$5 million, according to the release.

Metra has 242 stations over 11 routes, operates nearly 700 trains and provides about 290,000 passenger trips every weekday.

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