Metra announced today that its plan to increase the penalty for onboard ticket purchases will be postponed until mobile ticketing is unveiled later this year.
The fee, which is assessed when riders board at stations with open ticket windows or vending machines, was scheduled to be raised to $5 from $3 on Feb. 1, when other fare increases and changes to fare policies take effect. All other increases and changes will go on as planned. (See below.)
The delay was made in response to a discussion at last Friday’s board meeting. The penalty is intended to discourage riders from paying on the train in cash, and board members suggested it might be appropriate to postpone the increase until the start of mobile ticketing, which will allow riders to pay on the train using their own smartphones and a credit/debit card or Ventra account.
Mobile ticketing will be one function of a regional app being developed in conjunction with the CTA and Pace. The app will also feature Ventra account management and other functions.
The app will be tested in the coming weeks, with the official debut in late spring/early summer.
Metra has already printed various posters, schedules and information cards advertising the onboard penalty increase as one of several fare changes that will start Feb. 1. Rather than go through the expense of reprinting and redistributing new materials reflecting the postponement, Metra will keep the existing materials but will not enforce the increased onboard penalty until after mobile ticketing is unveiled.
All other fare changes will still start on Feb. 1. Those include:
- The price of full-fare, one-way tickets will increase between 10.8 and 18.2 percent, depending on the zone.
- Ten-ride tickets will be priced at 10 rides for the price of nine one-way fares, instead of 10 for 10. Depending on the zone, this will result in full-fare 10-ride tickets changing from a reduction of 0.3 percent to an increase of 6.4 percent.
- Full-fare monthly passes will increase between 10.9 percent and 18.6 percent.
- The price of reduced-fare, one-way tickets will increase between 11.1 and 22.3 percent, depending on the zone.
- Reduced-fare 10-ride tickets will increase between 0 and 10 percent.
- Reduced-fare monthly passes will increase between 11.1 percent and 22.2 percent.
- The grace period on monthly tickets will be restored, so that they will be valid on the first business day of the following month until noon.
- One-way tickets will be good for 90 days, instead of the current 14.
- The price of a weekend pass will increase to $8 from $7.