Approved Metra budget calls for fare increase

November 11, 2011 3:21:36 PM PST
Metra's board of directors approved its 2012 budget Friday morning, which includes a fare increase of about 25 percent, the biggest fare increase in four years.

Board members say the fare hike is needed to plug a nearly $54 million budget deficit.

"We will ask that our riders continue to be loyal riders to our system. We don't want to lose any riders as a result of this. We hope they understand what a struggle this was and a difficult decision for us to make," said Alex Clifford, Metra CEO.

Metra's board of directors unanimously approved the increase, saying the decision was difficult but necessary to maintain service.

"I don't think anybody on the board is happy about having to raise fares. I don't think anybody on the staff wants to raise fares. But I believe it is the responsible thing to do," said Jack Schaffer, Metra board member.

"I hope that we as a board as well as the staff will continue to put the interest of our riders first and foremost," said Arlene Mulder, Metra board member.

News of the fare hikes had riders snapping up tickets.

"I wound up buying a ten ride instead of individual tickets because of the price break, still at the old prices," said Barbara Duzinskas.

"I bought multiple definitely and the guy said they were good for a year, so I bought several of them," said Cheri Figgins.

Riders who buy tickets Friday will have one year to use them. But tickets purchased starting on Saturday will expire the end of February.

"We read the paper and we knew this was going to happen, and it was reinforced by a sign we saw at the box office," said Burt Kessler.

ABC7 found riders trying to find ways to save money with transportation and everywhere.

"You still have to pay your bills, and the more they go up, everything's going up, the light, the gas the rent, the mortgage. What are we supposed to do," said Jolyn Vance.

"It's hard for people who are seniors, because we're not working anymore, and when you're on a fixed we don't get downtown as much as we'd like to," said Gitta Kessler.

The new budget now goes to the RTA for a vote next month.

Riders will not see any fare increases until February 1.

Moving forward Metra executives are looking for ways to make the next budget less dramatic of an increase for riders. Metra's CEO said they will be watching overtime more carefully and looking at ways to be more efficient will fuel purchases. On the up side for riders, there is also talk about trying to get Wi-Fi on the trains.

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