Metra fare hikes approved

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Metra Board of Directors unanimously approved a budget and a series of fare hikes on Friday.

Most Metra riders say if they've got to pay more, they'd like to see something in return.

"If they improve service, I wouldn't mind hiking fares a little bit," Megan Howard said.

However, "a little bit" depends on who is talking. Under the fare increase plan, ticket prices would go up nearly 11 percent in February 2015 and increase around 5 percent each year over the next nine years. The fare increases would depend on how far travelers are going in each of Metra's zones.

"The board has confronted a reality. By not trying to pretend that you can run a railroad without paying for it," Metra Board Chariman Marty Oberman said.

It's Metra's first long-term capital improvement plan for "rolling stock," which includes new and rehabbed rail cars and locomotives. Also part of the 10 year plan is $400 million for the federally-mandated Positive Train Control safety system.

"I am willing to pay a little more to get better service, honestly," Diane Pina said.

While the increase in fares goes in effect in February, the shiny, new rail cars won't come into play right away.

"I'd love to be able to roll out new cars in January, but it takes three years to get a rail car delivered," Oberman said.

Currently, a single, one-way ticket for traveling 20 to 25 miles costs $5.25. If approved, that ticket will cost $6 next year; $7.50 in 2019; and $9 by 2024. A monthly pass for the same trip is about $150 now, would be $171 in 2015; $214 in 2019; and $257 by 2024.
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