Metra board approves fare hike; record ridership for Cubs parade

Metra riders will soon be paying more to ride the rails. The transit agency announced the impending increase on Friday along with its record ridership numbers for the Cubs World Series parade last Friday.

Metra's board of directors approved Friday a $1.06 billion budget for 2017. The fare increase is part of that budget.

The fare increase will generate $16.1 million in revenue in 2017 for Metra, all of which will go to fund capital improvement projects. The total 2017 capital improvement budget is $279.5 million.

Commuters will pay an extra $11.75 for a monthly pass. Ten-ride tickets will cost $2.75 more. One-way tickets will cost an additional 25 cents.

Reduced-fare one-way tickets will also cost 25 cents more, reduced-fare ten-ride tickets will cost an additional $1.50 and riders will have to pay $7.50 more for reduced-fare monthly passes.

While the fare increase will fund capital needs, riders said those expenses should not be coming out of their pockets.

Aurea Laboy takes Metra on a daily basis to get from college in Chicago back to her home and part-time job in Elmhurst. She's concerned - to say the least - to learn her $160 monthly ticket will be going up by $11.75 beginning next February.

"It's hard. It's hard," said Laboy. "With my school paying so much as it is, and working part-time, it's hard for me to even eat lunch or stuff."

Metra's CEO explained where the money coming out of riders' pockets will be going.

"It's going be things that you touch, like rebuilding locomotives, keeping our car rebuilding program going, all the things that we need to fix because they are in a state of disrepair," said Metra CEO Don Orseno.

But riders say prices have been going up every year for three years and those improvements are not very visible.

"It's not only the rates that are going up but the service in the cars. You're standing. I haven't seen the quality of the cars go up or the service of Metra, to be honest with you," said commuter Tom King.

Orseno said he did not know if fares would rise again next year, but he is looking to Springfield and Washington for help.

Metra also announced record-setting ridership during the Cubs parade and celebration last Friday, November 4, with 460,000 riders. The previous record of 430,488 riders was set on July 3, 2007, during the Taste of Chicago and fireworks display.

The transit agency also announced on Friday that its trains were on-time 97.4 percent of the month in October. The rail company considers a train to be on-time if it reaches its final destination with five minutes and 59 seconds of its scheduled arrival time.
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