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Illinois senators seek explanation for Metra fare hike, consulting fees


Yesterday, U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) called on Metra Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer Alex Clifford to provide an explanation of costs incurred by the Chicago agency and justify a proposed 30 percent fare increase.

Metra currently has a six-month, $225,000 contract with consultant George Avery Grimes to help determine ways to increase efficiencies and reduce costs. Grimes’ contract is under review for a six-month extension.

In a letter to Clifford, Durbin and Kirk asked that Metra disclose any additional outside contracts and consultants to demonstrate that potential efficiencies and budget reductions have been exhausted before the agency’s board votes on a proposed fare hike to address an annual budget shortfall, according to a press release from Durbin’s office.

“We understand the financial challenges facing Metra and other transit agencies around the nation,” the letter states. “However, we feel the riders of Metra deserve an explanation for many of the costs incurred by the agency.”

Citing media reports, Durbin and Kirk state the contract for Grimes’ services “is nearly twice as much as any salaried employee and represents about 10 percent of Metra’s 2012 efficiencies and cost reductions.”

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More News from 9/22/2011