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9/12/2019



Rail News: Passenger Rail

Metra cuts costs to avoid 2020 fare increase


Metra cuts $21 million in spending to help offset an expected $26 million increase in operating expenses next year.
Photo – Metra Facebook

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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. 



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