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County, transit partners celebrate anniversary of Fair Transit South Cook Program

County officials and representatives from Metra, Pace and Regional Transit Authority today to announce year-one results of the Fair Transit South Cook pilot project with the release of the Fair Transit South Cook annual report and to discuss goals for the final two years of the program.

Fair Transit South Cook is a three-year pilot designed to provide accessible, affordable and equitable public transportation to residents and commuters in south Cook County. The program is spearheaded by Cook County’s Department of Transportation and Highways (DoTH), in partnership with Metra and Pace.

Through this pilot, fares are reduced up to 50% on the Metra Electric (ME) and Rock Island (RI) lines and service on Pace Route 352 Halsted has increased by 25%. Anyone riding transit in the pilot area can benefit from the reduced fares and increased service.

“Through the Fair Transit pilot, we are addressing inequalities in transportation by decreasing fare costs that overburden South Cook residents and increasing service to provide commuters more flexibility in their travels,” said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. “This program is an important component in achieving transit equity across Cook County.”

The pilot was planned prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the partners decided it was vital to launch in January 2021 to ensure essential workers were able to access reliable and affordable transit options.

Data shows that ridership on the ME and RI lines is recovering at a faster rate than the rest of the Metra system. Lower-income neighborhoods are using and benefitting the most from the fare reductions on the ME line and the service improvements on Pace Route 352 Halsted.

In the final two years of the Fair Transit South Cook pilot, Cook County is working with transit partners to implement an integrated fare payment solution with discounted transfers and a single payment system that works cohesively between each service. This integration would benefit riders beyond south Cook County by making the transit system more convenient to use across the region.

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