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Metra officials yesterday proposed a $700 million 2021 operating budget and a $386.4 million capital budget that would continue investments in rail cars, locomotives and stations.
The proposed operating spending plan assumes that Metra ridership will end 2020 at about 20% of the pre-COVID-19 level and increase to 50% by the end of 2021. If that happens, Metra expects about $158 million in fare revenue, Metra officials said in a press release.
With an additional $336 million expected from regional transportation sales taxes and $206 million from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the Chicago commuter railroad will have $700 million available to spend in 2021, Metra officials said.
However, at current spending rates and service levels and with projected 2021 increases, Metra will need $770 million in revenue next year. The budget will require expenses to be cut by $70 million if the agency doesn’t receive additional COVID relief financial assistance, Metra officials said.
"Without more financial assistance, we face some awful and extremely difficult choices, including cuts in service,” said Metra Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director Jim Derwinski.
The proposed budget does not call for fare increases or service cuts from present levels.
Metra also introduced a 2021 capital budget with more than half of the funding going toward major projects, including: