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Metra Releases 2010 Budget for Public Comment

(October 16, 2009) - 
At a time when the economy is tough and base sales tax receipts have eroded to a 10-year low, the Metra Board of Directors on Friday unveiled a $613 million operating budget that calls for no changes in commuter rail service in 2010 and some revisions to its fare structure.
 
Metra is grateful for the recent actions of our elected officials in Springfield, first for addressing its operating needs by increasing the regional transportation sales tax last year and then for addressing its capital needs by approving a public works bond program earlier this year. Those efforts are greatly assisting Metra in balancing its budget and investing in its infrastructure.
 
The new fare structure includes adjustments in one-way fares and the first change in the cost of weekend passes since the program began in 1991. But the impact of the new fare structure on regular Metra riders will be limited, since most use 10-ride tickets and monthly passes and those fares won’t change.
 
“Any fare adjustment is difficult, particularly in today’s economy, but we believe we are taking a responsible, targeted approach that is sensitive to the needs of our passengers,” said Metra Chairman Carole R. Doris.
 
Metra’s new fare structure, which would start Feb. 1, 2010, is intended to encourage customers to use 10-ride tickets and monthly passes, which already offer a discount over the one-way fares. Those multiple-ride options are easier than ever to purchase, because Metra recently spent $3.9 million on a new website that allows riders to buy 10-ride tickets and monthly passes online with credit and debit cards.
 
To encourage riders to buy tickets at stations and over the Internet, Metra would increase the penalty for on-board purchases to $5 from $2. That penalty is not assessed on passengers who board at unmanned stations.
 
One-way fares would increase about 6 percent, an average of about 30 cents a ticket. In order to simplify on-board fare collection, the increases have been rounded to the nearest quarter, a practice common to other commuter rail operations in the United States. (Please see the fare chart on the next page for details.)
 
Weekend fares would increase to $7 from $5. This would be the first increase in the existence of the weekend fare program, which started in May 1991. During that time, Metra has raised its general fares four times (in 1996, 2002, 2006 and 2008). Weekend passes are good for unlimited rides on both Saturday and Sunday.
 
The tough economy has prompted Metra to adopt a variety of cost-containment measures that saved about $4 million in administrative costs, including leaving about 150 positions unfilled, freezing management salaries and asking non-union employees to pay more for their health insurance.
 
Public hearings on the proposed budget and presentations to the boards of the six counties in Metra’s service area will be held over the next few weeks. (See the schedule on the next pages.) The budget also must be approved by the RTA. Download the full budget here.
 
Proposed increases for one-way fares between downtown and the zone indicated:
 
Zone           2009      2010
 
 A               $2.15     $2.25
 
 B               $2.35     $2.50
 
 C               $3.35     $3.50
 
 D               $3.80     $4.00
 
 E               $4.30     $4.50
 
 F               $4.75     $5.00
 
 G               $5.15     $5.50
 
 H               $5.65     $6.00
 
 I                $6.10     $6.50
 
 J                $6.60     $7.00
 
 K               $7.05     $7.50
 
 M               $8.05     $8.50
 
 
Public Hearing Schedule
 
Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2009: 4 p.m. – 7 p.m.
 
DuPage County
Clarendon Hills Village Hall
Village Board Room
1 N. Prospect Avenue
Clarendon Hills
 
McHenry County
Woodstock City Hall
City Council Chambers
121 W. Calhoun St.
Woodstock
 
Suburban Cook (North)
Arlington Heights Village Hall
Village Board Room
33 South Arlington Heights Road
Arlington Heights
 
Suburban Cook (South)
Homewood Village Hall
Village Board Room
2020 Chestnut Road
Homewood
 
 
Thursday, Nov. 5, 2009: 4 p.m. – 7 p.m. 
 
City of Chicago
Metra
547 W. Jackson Blvd.
13th Floor Board Room
Chicago
 
 
Lake County
Grayslake Village Hall
Village Board Room
10 South Seymour
Grayslake
 
Kane County
Geneva City Hall
City Council Chamber
22 S. First Street
Geneva
 
Will County
Joliet City Hall
West Wing Conference Room
150 West Jefferson Street
Joliet
 
 
Metra 2010 Program and Budget Presentations – County Boards
 
Cook County Board
Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2009 – 10 a.m.
Cook County Board of Commissioners
County Building 
118 N. Clark Street, 5th Floor
Chicago
 
DuPage County Board
Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2009 – 7:30 p.m.
DuPage County Board
DuPage County Administration Building
County Board Room 
421 N. County Farm Road
Wheaton
 
Kane County Board Transportation Committee
Monday, Oct. 26, 2009 – 9 a.m.
Kane County Forest Preserve Office
1996 S. Kirk Road, Suite 320
Geneva
 
Kane County Board
Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2009 – 9:45 a.m.
Kane County Board
Kane County Government Center
County Board Room
719 Batavia Avenue, Building A
Geneva
 
Lake County Board
Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2009 – 9 a.m.
Lake County Board
Lake County Court House
County Board Room 
18 N. County Street
Waukegan
 
McHenry County Board
Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2009 – 9 a.m.
McHenry County Board
County Board Room
667 Ware
Woodstock
 
Will County Board
Thursday, Nov. 19, 2009 – 9:30 a.m.
Will County Board
Will County Board Office 
302 N. Chicago Street
Joliet
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