Metra plans to ask state for $5B to solve problems, improve rider satisfaction

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Metra board admitted Wednesday it needs help in solving problems with mechanical failures and ridership dissatisfaction, and is planning to ask the state legislature for major financial help.

One board member even suggested they need a rap star, the way Chance the Rapper has helped Chicago Public Schools.

Metra is planning to ask the state for $5 billion.

"We are asking to start addressing our state of good repair needs, and we're asking to start growing and enhancing the system based on three priorities: increasing our safety and security, reducing our operating costs, becoming more efficient to reduce the bottom line, and then doing anything we can do to enhance the ride to make more riders get on the train," said Jim Derwinski, Metra CEO.

At Metra's monthly board meeting Wednesday, members heard an update on plans recruit riders to help lobby state legislators for the money.

"We should be going out to the public right now with we need this or else not for shock and awe but, so they understand," said board member John Plante.

"There is a disconnect in terms of the rider, there's a lot of work we need to do or continue to do in terms of education," said Sam Smith, Metra Government Affairs Officer.

Riders had different views on the big ask from the state.

"I really hope things get better, I hope the money doesn't come from me personally because I already pay so much, and I'm just a college student so I have to find a lot of other stuff to make the money work," said Vivian Pina, rider.

"If you want better public transportation you have to pay more, that's just the way it works. Whether it comes out of my pocket, or the state's pocket, which is my pocket anyway, it's got to come out of everybody's pocket," said Keith Engell, rider.

Riders did not pay a fare increase this year, but have in years past.
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