Metra approves fare hike for all riders

October 14, 2011 (CHICAGO)

Metra officials Friday proposed fare hikes for riders but scaled back some increases after commuters and others complained.

Originally, some of the monthly fares were set to go up more than 60 percent for Chicago commuters. Chicago riders would still see the highest percentage increases under the revised proposal, but far suburban riders would also see more of an increase.

Commuters have come to count on Metra. Metra officers hope riders will continue to be loyal if fare increases kick in next year.

"We need to provide the service we promise the customers to do, and to do that we have to retain capital and capital eligible dollars on that side of the ledger in order to keep the system in a state of good repair," said Metra CEO Alex Clifford.

Friday, Clifford presented the board with a revised proposal for fares increases to address Metra's budget.

The board approved the increases tentatively that raise fares, on average, 25 percent. For example, monthly fares for Chicago's Zone A would go from $58.05 to $78.25. For commuters going to University Park it would go from $139.05 to $178.00. and those with monthly passes for Harvard in Zone M, it's $217.35 but would go to $263.50.

"We had no other choice but to raise fares, and we had to do it across the board. We had to be fair about it," said Larry Huggins, Metra Board of Directors acting chairman.

Increases for the commute will be a challenge for some already struggling to make ends meet.

"Being a ful-ltime student with 18 credits on top of working and all my other's not fun now they're going up," said Brittany Buschy.

"I go home to help out at my parents' store, so I'm stuck with it," said Ray Chung.

For some, even an increase makes public transportation the best option.

"Everything is going up, and it's cheaper than driving my car, so I guess a little increase is better than putting gas in my tank," said Arlene Dimiropoulos.

"Compared to other things, not so bad," said Tami Velayutham. "I mean, nobody likes a fare increase, but if it has to be it's alright."

There will be public hearings before Metra's board of directors takes a formal vote on the fare increases in November. The regional transportation will have final say.

The increases would take effect in February.

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