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Rail News: Passenger Rail

Metra's board adopts 2012 budget and fare increases


The Northeast Illinois Regional Commuter Railroad Corp.’s (Metra) board recently approved an operating budget of $686.8 million and $244.1 million capital program for fiscal-year 2012, which will include fare increases.

The fare increases will help cover a budget deficit next year “due to a spike in diesel fuel prices, the demands of meeting new federal regulations, higher insurance premiums and a variety of other rising costs,” Metra officials said in a prepared statement.

Funds from regional sales taxes are projected to fall short of revenue needs, a factor that also contributes to the need for fare increases, they said.

In addition, Metra officials have decided to stop diverting funds from the agency’s capital budget to cover operating deficits.

The agency trimmed its deficit by $17.5 million by locking in the price of 75 percent of fuel needs, cut administrative costs and took other steps to make the agency operate more efficiently, officials said. Still, the budget includes a $53.6 million gap in funding that necessitates the fare hike, they said.

Starting Feb. 1, one-way tickets will increase an average of 15.7 percent across all fare zones, while 10-ride tickets will go up an average of 30 percent. Monthly passes will increase an average of 29.4 percent.

The budget now will go to the Regional Transportation Authority, which is scheduled to vote on the region’s transportation budget next month.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 11/14/2011