Metra Board approves fare increases, changes in fare policies

The Metra Board of Directors today approved the agency’s 2012 budget, which includes fare increases across all ticket types and a variety of other changes to Metra’s fare policies.

Starting on Feb. 1, 2012, one-way tickets will increase an average of 15.7 percent across all fare zones, while 10-ride tickets will go up an average of 30 percent and monthly passes will increase an average of 29.4 percent. Reduced fare one-way tickets will increase an average of 10.3 percent, reduced fare 10-ride tickets will increase an average of 18.9 percent and reduced fare monthly passes will go up an average of 10.8 percent. Taken together, the overall average increase is 25.1 percent. The new fare chart is attached.

Several fare polices also will change starting Feb.1. Those include:

  • One-way tickets will only be valid for 14 days, instead of a year, and they will no longer be refundable.
  • The 10-ride ticket discount will be reduced so that riders will get 10 rides for the price of nine, rather than 10 for the price of eight.
  • Ten-ride tickets will remain valid for a year, but will only be refundable within three months of the date of purchase. For refunds on a partially used ticket, the cost of a one-way ticket from the specific zone-pair combination will be deducted for each ride taken. After the 9th ride is used, the ticket will no longer be refundable. Refunds are subject to a $5 handling fee per transaction.
  • Monthly passes will be valid through the end of the month (instead of noon on the first day of the following month) and refunds will be subject to a $5 fee per transaction.
  • Link-Up tickets will cost $45.00 and PlusBus will cost $30.00.
  • Young adult fares on weekends and holidays will be eliminated.

In addition, Metra is immediately changing the expiration dates of one-way and 10-ride tickets in an effort to deter the stockpiling of those tickets before the fare increase begins next year. One-way and 10-ride tickets purchased from Nov. 12, 2011, though January 31, 2012, will be valid only through Feb. 29, 2012. There is no price increase for those tickets during this temporary period. Unused tickets will be reimbursed at the refund policy in effect at the time of purchase.

Metra’s 2012 budget includes $686.8 million for operations and a $244.1 million capital program. The fare increase will help cover a budget deficit next year due to a spike in diesel fuel prices, the demands of meeting new federal regulations, higher insurance premiums and a variety of other rising costs. Proceeds from the regional transportation sales tax also have fallen short of expectations due to the faltering economy. And Metra has decided to stop diverting funds from its capital budget, meant for infrastructure improvements, to plug holes in its operating budget. That practice simply is not sustainable given our critical capital needs.

Metra did reduce the deficit by $17.5 million through a variety of steps, including locking in the price of 75 percent of its fuel needs, making administrative cuts and finding other operational efficiencies. Those actions reduced the size of the needed fare increase by 7 percentage points. However, there still is a projected budget gap of $53.6 million that will be covered by the fare increase.

Click here to review the 2012 Budget Fare Tables.

Click here to review the 2012 Budget Book.

Click here to review the November 2011 presentation to the Board of Directors.