Metra considering fare hikes, service reductions

July 15, 2011 (CHICAGO)

The agency is looking at options , including scaling back train service, and eliminating extra trains for White Sox and Bears games.

Metra board members are being asked to make a decision on the proposed cuts at a meeting a month from now. Diesel costs are a top concern.

Metra's executive director was clear when he presented two financial options to the board Friday. Option 1: increase fares.

There are various scenarios, but Clifford says fares could increase 9 to 20 percent. Fare increases are included in every scenario.

"For a monthly pass, to pay a couple extra dollars, I wouldn't be too upset," said Rick Herdrich of Batavia.

"That's unfortunate in these economic times, but I understand they've got a cost structure they have to cover. Unfortunately you have to raise price to do that - the cost of doing business," said Maurice Bell of Wheaton.

Option 2: increase fares and reduce service. That means every line except the Heritage Corridor could be trimmed. Weekend service would be scaled back, and Bears and Sox service eliminated.

"I do not think that they should reduce it. The trains are pretty crowded as it is," said April Hurst of Winfield.

Through public hearings and an Internet survey, Metra riders will get to voice their opinions about the financial options, even if they think their voice doesn't matter.

"I don't have much of a say in the matter...I still need to get to work, so I guess I'll have to," said Karla Rachwalski of Elmhurst.

Public hearing dates have yet to be determined. The 2012 budget is not expected to be approved until October.

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