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Rail News: Passenger Rail
Metra cuts costs to avoid 2020 fare increase
Metra yesterday announced that it will not raise fares next year despite an expected $26 million increase in operating expenses.
To control and reduce operating costs in order to avoid increasing fares, Metra identified $5 million in operating efficiencies, officials with the Chicago commuter railroad said in a press release.
The railroad also expects to save $7 million by not filling employee vacancies and another $9 million by reducing overtime opportunities and other expenses, they said.
Those $21 million in reductions will help offset an expected $26 million increase in operating expenses in 2020, including $7 million in new operating expenses related to positive train control.
The remaining $5 million in operating expenses will be covered through higher revenue from a regional transportation sales tax, which funds a little more than half of Metra’s operating budget.
Additionally, Metra unveiled a preliminary capital program that will be proposed to the Chicago Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) next month.
The program includes nearly $2.6 billion in funding over the next five years. Metra expects to receive about $215.5 million in each of the next five years from the sale of state bonds, and an additional $73.8 million a year from “Pay Go” funding tied to a higher state fuel tax, for a total of $1.45 billion in new state money, officials said.
That money will be added to $962 million in expected federal funding, $145.8 million in expected funding from the RTA and $26 million in Metra fare revenue devoted to capital needs.
Metra officials said they will prioritize program spending on rail cars and locomotives, station and bridge improvements and service enhancements.
Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.