The Cook County Board of Commissioners on Thursday approved $35 million for a pilot program designed to enhance transit in south Cook and northern Will Counties. The County is partnering with Metra and Pace to launch Fair Transit South Cook to help make transit more affordable and convenient for residents in the Southland.
As part of Fair Transit, Metra will reduce fares by up to 50 percent on the Metra Electric and Rock Island lines. Pace is expanding and extending hours of service on their 352 Halsted route, which goes through Homewood.
The pilot is scheduled to launch in early 2021.
“Now more than ever, we must ensure that all residents have equitable access to transit,” said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. “Not everyone has had the luxury of working from home during the pandemic. Metra’s fare reduction and the enhanced service on Pace will help essential workers in our Southland with more convenient and affordable transportation options.”
The funding approved today will be used to offset costs incurred by Metra and Pace associated with the pilot implementation over the span of the program. The three-year pilot will be implemented in phases to give the County and transit partners the opportunity to evaluate fare structures, frequency and other enhancements to ensure the program is sustainable and meets the needs of residents.
“At its core, Fair Transit is about what’s best for our residents and economic development in Cook County,” said Jennifer “Sis” Killen, acting superintendent of the Cook County Department of Transportation and Highways. “We have worked closely with Metra and Pace to ensure residents in traditionally underserved areas of the County are provided with robust and affordable transportation options.”
The County is asking residents who frequently travel to or live in southern Cook and northern Will Counties to complete a short survey to gather ideas and better understand how the pandemic has impacted ridership. The survey is available online until December 31.
For more information about Fair Transit South Cook, visit www.cookcountyil.gov/FAIRTRANSIT.