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Rail News: Passenger Rail

Metra to charge penalty for onboard cash fares after mobile system begins


Metra will postpone its plan to hike the penalty for onboard ticket purchases until after it unveils its mobile ticketing plan later this year.

The fee, which is assessed when riders board at stations with open ticket windows or vending machines, was scheduled to be raised to $5 from $3 on Feb. 1, when other fare increases and changes to fare policies take effect. All other fare increases will go on as planned, Metra officials said in a press release.

The delay was made in response to a discussion at last week's Metra board meeting. The penalty is intended to discourage riders from paying for fares in cash onboard trains. Waiting until after the new ticketing system is launched seemed to be more appropriate, board members suggested.

Mobile ticketing will allow riders to pay fares on a train by using their smartphone and a debit/credit card or Ventra account. Mobile ticketing will be one function of a regional app being developed in conjunction with the Chicago Transit Authority and the Pace bus system.

The previously announced fare increases include an increase in the range of 10.8 percent and 18.2 percent on the full-fare price of a one-way ticket.