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Metra to hold public meeting in Homewood for comments on proposed fare increase, service cuts

Metra will hold a public meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 1, at the Homewood Village Hall, 2020 Chestnut Road.

The commuter rail company has proposed a 2018 operating budget of $797.2 million that includes fare increases and, for the first time, cuts in service in order to close a $45 million budget deficit caused by rising expenses, a reduction in state aid and disappointing sales tax revenues. 

Metra also proposed a 2018 capital budget that totals $196.8 million from its available funding sources, about one-sixth of its estimated annual need, according to Metra officials.

“The current situation is unsustainable, and threatens the future viability of the important service Metra provides,” said Metra Chairman Norman Carlson in a news release. “With the proper amount of sustained public investment, we can create a system with a long and bright future. It is clearly in the interest of the citizens of northeast Illinois for Metra to do so.”

Metra is proposing a combination of fare increases and cuts in expenses, including cutting a small number of trains, to close the budget gap. Under the budget proposal:
The price of one-way tickets would increase in all zones.

The proposed monthly ticket from Zone E (Homewood and Flossmoor) to downtown stops will be $195.75; a 10-ride will be $64.75; and a one-way will be $6.75.

The price of Weekend Passes would increase to $10 from $8 but they would now be valid on Friday evenings trains arriving or leaving downtown after 7 p.m., in addition to all day Saturday and Sunday.

Reduced fare ticket prices also will increase. 

The proposed fare increase will generate about $17 million, or 4.8 percent additional revenue to help close a  $45 million deficit.

Metra’s $196.8 million capital budget will be funded with $171.6 million from federal sources, $4.9 million in RTA Innovation, Coordination and Enhancement grants and $20.3 million in fare revenue. 

Metra is anticipating no new capital money from the state of Illinois for locomotive rehabilitation, car rehabilitation, a new federally-mandated safety system and bridge replacement and routine needs such as rail and tie replacement, road crossing replacement, engineering and sprucing up a limited number of stations through our in-house station beautification program.

Comments on the proposed budget can also be emailed to 2018budgetcomments@ metrarr.com, faxed to 312-322-7094, shared via facebook.com/MetraRail and mailed to the Assistant Secretary to the Metra Board, Room 1300, 547 W. Jackson Blvd., Chicago, IL, 60661.

For more information about Metra’s proposed 2018 budget, including a Q&A and board presentations, please click here: https://metrarail.com/node/5432

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