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State cuts to transit leads to Metra, Pace fare hikes

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With state legislators again cutting funding for public transit in a recent budget agreement, both Metra and Pace plan to increase fares in 2018.

Metra also plans a limited amount of service cuts, with details still to come.

Chicago Transit Authority President Dorval Carter said at the agency’s September board meeting that neither fare hikes nor service cuts are currently on the table for 2018.

The fare hike for Metra’s suburban commuter rail service was expected as the agency is four years into a 10-year modernization plan that includes gradual fare increases.

Active Trans called the plan and its modest fare increases “inevitable and responsible” when it was first introduced in 2014.

Metra proposes raising fares by 25 cents on one-way tickets, increasing the cost of 10-ride and monthly fares between 4.1 percent and 12.6 percent. The agency also proposed eliminating the monthly reduced fare pass for seniors and people with disabilities. Pace proposes to increase fares for its suburban bus service by a quarter per ride.

Proposals from both agencies will be voted on at November board meetings.

State legislators should never have let things get to this point. The transit cuts were buried in the recent budget agreement, but the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) recently provided more details to Chicago Tribune transportation columnist Mary Wisniewski.

The RTA said all three transit agencies face $76 million in cuts, including $24 million lost due to a new fee the state is charging local governments to manage sales tax revenues. Legislators also agreed to a 10 percent cut in the Public Transportation Fund.

These cuts are unacceptable given the proven economic, environmental and public health benefits of public transit investment.

Meanwhile, the state continues to pursue costly and ineffective road projects that only lead to more driving and sprawl.

Active Trans will continue to work with our partners to protect and ultimately grow state investment in public transit. Join our advocacy supporter list to receive updates and alerts.