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Metra board approves new strategic plan aimed at adapting to post-pandemic world

The Metra Board of Directors on Wednesday, Feb. 15, approved a new 2023-2027 strategic plan that focuses on addressing the operational and financial challenges of a post-COVID world and sets ambitious goals for the agency’s evolution and growth.

The new strategic plan, titled My Metra, Our Future, is an update to the last plan, On Track to Excellence, which primarily focused on Metra’s chronic operating and capital funding shortfalls.

The new plan acknowledges that those shortfalls have been somewhat addressed in the near term but remain a concern. At the same time, Metra faces a variety of new challenges brought on by the pandemic, including new commuting patterns, demands for new service options and attracting and retaining workers. In addition, Metra recognizes the need to provide equitable, sustainable and environmentally friendly service.

“With the vision and goals that are outlined in this new strategic plan, we are recognizing that Metra must adapt and evolve to meet our riders’ and the region’s transit needs,” said Metra CEO/Executive Director Jim Derwinski. “It won’t be easy, but we will do everything within our ability and budget to achieve these goals and make our new vision a reality.”

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The new plan was drafted and finalized with the assistance of Metra customers, employees and board members, regional stakeholders and others through two surveys and several open houses, meetings and workshops. Metra received more than 3,000 comments throughout the process.

The work started with the refinement of Metra’s mission statement to make it more concise and responsive to the community. The statement aims to describe where Metra is now and what it does best: “Metra provides safe, reliable, efficient, and affordable commuter rail service that enhances the economic and environmental health of Northeast Illinois.”

The vision statement in the new plan was then rewritten to reflect the impact of the pandemic, which upended Metra’s core market of riders traveling between home and downtown. Ridership patterns and demand for Metra service have permanently changed, and Metra intends to move towards a “regional rail” service model that provides more frequent service throughout the day to meet this demand, while still supporting peak demand during the traditional rush hour.

“To proactively address evolving transportation needs, Metra will provide regional rail service that supports sustainable connected communities.”

To fulfill its mission and move towards its vision, the strategic plan is built around five equally important and related goals. They reflect the evolving priorities of Metra, regional transit needs, and customers. They are:

  • Enhance service to grow ridership and provide mobility choices.
  • Ensure the Metra experience is safe, easy, and enjoyable for all customers.
  • Attract a diverse workforce and invest in our employees.
  • Innovate to become more efficient and effective.
  • Be a socially responsible organization committed to equity and sustainability.

Each of those five goals are linked to a set of objectives, with measures that will be used to evaluate the agency’s progress.

Metra board approves new strategic plan aimed at adapting to post-pandemic world

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The Metra Board of Directors on Wednesday, Feb. 15, approved a new 2023-2027 strategic plan that focuses on addressing the operational and financial challenges of a post-COVID world and sets ambitious goals for the agency’s evolution and growth.

The new strategic plan, titled My Metra, Our Future, is an update to the last plan, On Track to Excellence, which primarily focused on Metra’s chronic operating and capital funding shortfalls.

The new plan acknowledges that those shortfalls have been somewhat addressed in the near term but remain a concern. At the same time, Metra faces a variety of new challenges brought on by the pandemic, including new commuting patterns, demands for new service options and attracting and retaining workers. In addition, Metra recognizes the need to provide equitable, sustainable and environmentally friendly service.

“With the vision and goals that are outlined in this new strategic plan, we are recognizing that Metra must adapt and evolve to meet our riders’ and the region’s transit needs,” said Metra CEO/Executive Director Jim Derwinski. “It won’t be easy, but we will do everything within our ability and budget to achieve these goals and make our new vision a reality.”

The new plan was drafted and finalized with the assistance of Metra customers, employees and board members, regional stakeholders and others through two surveys and several open houses, meetings and workshops. Metra received more than 3,000 comments throughout the process.

The work started with the refinement of Metra’s mission statement to make it more concise and responsive to the community. The statement aims to describe where Metra is now and what it does best: “Metra provides safe, reliable, efficient, and affordable commuter rail service that enhances the economic and environmental health of Northeast Illinois.”

The vision statement in the new plan was then rewritten to reflect the impact of the pandemic, which upended Metra’s core market of riders traveling between home and downtown. Ridership patterns and demand for Metra service have permanently changed, and Metra intends to move towards a “regional rail” service model that provides more frequent service throughout the day to meet this demand, while still supporting peak demand during the traditional rush hour.

“To proactively address evolving transportation needs, Metra will provide regional rail service that supports sustainable connected communities.”

To fulfill its mission and move towards its vision, the strategic plan is built around five equally important and related goals. They reflect the evolving priorities of Metra, regional transit needs, and customers. They are:

  • Enhance service to grow ridership and provide mobility choices.
  • Ensure the Metra experience is safe, easy, and enjoyable for all customers.
  • Attract a diverse workforce and invest in our employees.
  • Innovate to become more efficient and effective.
  • Be a socially responsible organization committed to equity and sustainability.

Each of those five goals are linked to a set of objectives, with measures that will be used to evaluate the agency’s progress.

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