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Metra proposes 2019 budget, warns of railroad's 'deterioration'

The railroad's proposed $185.6 million capital budget falls "far short" of its needs, Metra officials said.
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Metra's 2019 budget proposals came with a stark warning about the railroad's continued deterioration and budget shortfalls.

The railroad on Monday proposed a $185.6 million capital budget that falls "far short" of its needs, Metra officials said in a news release. The budget is funded through $173.6 million in federal funds, $5 million in local Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) funds and $7 million in fare revenue.

About half of the budget will go toward priorities such as new and rehabilitated cars  and engines, and positive train control. The remaining half will fund routine capital maintenance of tracks, signals, stations and other facilities.

However, additional funding is needed — more than could come from fares, Metra officials said. The railroad again made a plea for more funding from the state of Illinois, which established the RTA in 1973 and Metra a decade later.

Metra also proposed an $822 million operating budget that doesn't include a fare increase.

"While this budget contains good news for our customers, that good news comes with a warning: Metra cannot continue to operate the system as it now exists — and we cannot grow it — unless we receive the funding we need," said Metra Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director Jim Derwinski. "We will be spending the coming months highlighting our needs and working with our business and political leaders to solve this problem."

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More News from 10/11/2018