Metra increases price of tickets

As the new year quickly approaches, Metra travelers prepare for a hike in ticket prices. On Nov. 10, Metra announced the 2015 budget which includes an average 10.8 percent increase in fare prices. However accompanying this price increase, Metra is reinstating a discount on 10-ride tickets as well as restoring the first-day grace period on monthly tickets which lengthens the life of all one-way train tickets.

One-way tickets will increase anywhere from 10.8 to 18.2 percent depending on the zone in which the ticket is for.

In a press release, Metra said that that this money was intended to fund a modernization plan and pay for other rising business costs.

Metra spokesperson Meg Reile said that some of the rail cars date back to the Eisenhower administration.

“You can only repair and rehabilitate things so many times till you need to replace them,” Reile said.

This fare increase is also expected to cover the operational cost of running the trains, Reile said. These costs include the constant maintenance that is needed as well as the renewal that is required for all the cars since they are constantly exposed to the elements. The budget also includes the cost of fuel.

“We use several million gallons of diesel fuel a year that we have to be able to pay for,” Reile said.

Even though fuel costs are lower now then before, Reile said that recent trends indicate they are increasing.

Although Metra expects to receive an $18 million in funding from outside sources, including a $12.3 million increase from the regional transportation sales taxes, $6 million from the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) and $700,000 increase in state reduced fare subsidy, it is obligated to cover 50 percent of the operating costs with revenue from the farebox, Reile said.

In total, this budget encompasses $749.1 million for operation and $328.9 million for capital needs.

Reile said that the price of a ticket is relative, and that it is essentially only funding about half of the cost for a single ride aboard a Metra train.

Stevenson students may not feel the effects of this increase as much, said Anna Yuan ’15, who often took the Metra to commute to and from the downtown area for her summer classes.

“Students already have a steep discount,” Yuan said. “It’s half of a full price ticket.”

Even with the new fare increase, a train ride is still cheaper than parking downtown, Yuan said.

However, Amy Joseph, frequent commuter prefers to drive to and from the city to work because it is faster and allows more flexibility in her schedule.

“Taking the train to work would involve taking a bus to and from the train station in the city and arranging transportation from the train station to work,” Joseph said.

Joseph typically only takes the Metra out to the suburbs when she is going to places like Ravinia where parking can be difficult and spots are hard to find.

For people who do ride the trains, Metra’s new fare increase may at first appear inconvenient, but it is necessary in order to maintain Chicago’s vast transportation network, according to Reile.

“[The fare] keeps the system running so that we can continue to provide over 300,000 rides per day,” Reile said.