Metra to hold public hearing in Homewood on proposed $1.06 billion 2017 budget, fare hike

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Metra to hold public hearing in Homewood on proposed $1.06 billion 2017 budget, fare hike

November 01, 2016 - 01:49
(Chronicle file photo)

Metra will hold a public hearing  from 4 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 2, in Homewood Village Hall, 2020 Chestnut Road, to provide information and hear comments and questions from the community on its proposed 2017 budget. 

Metra officials said the budget would increase fare revenue by 5.8 percent and spend the resulting $16.1 million on the agency’s capital needs. The $1.06 billion budget would provide $781.2 million for operating costs and $279.5 million for capital improvements in 2017.

Fares cover about half of the operating budget, railway officials said, with the rest primarily coming from the RTA sales tax collected in the six-county region. Sales tax is partially matched by the state. 

“Last year, we said that without a new state bond program, we may need to raise fares even higher than we had projected to fund our capital budget,” said Executive Director/CEO Don Orseno. “By finding budget efficiencies and carefully prioritizing our capital needs, we are proposing a 5.8 percent increase in fare revenue for 2017 – with 100 percent of the proceeds going toward capital improvements.”

The fare increase will include:

  • Customers who buy one-way tickets will pay 25 cents more per ticket. Customers who take the train 30 times a year will pay an additional $7.50 annually.
  • Customers who buy 10-ride tickets will pay $2.75 more per ticket, an additional 27.5 cents per trip.
  • Customers who buy monthly passes will pay $11.75 more per month, or about 27 cents more per trip and $141 more annually.
  • Other proposed fare increases include an additional 25 cents on the reduced fare one-way tickets, an additional $1.50 on the reduced fare 10-ride tickets and an additional $7.50 on the reduced fare monthly pass.

The fare increase will generate an additional $16.1 million in revenue in 2017, 100 percent of which will be used to fund capital improvement projects. 

Metra has an extensive backlog of capital projects requiring $11.7 billion or $1.2 billion annually over the next decade just to achieve and maintain a state of good repair. In each of the next four years, Metra projects that it will have less than $300 million annually available to spend on capital projects – about $900 million less than the agency needs to spend each year.
The 2017 operating budget, which covers the day-to-day costs of running the railroad, would increase costs by $21.4 million or 2.8 percent over 2016. 

For 2017, Metra is expecting to receive $175 million from federal sources and $72.4 million from the RTA for its capital needs. It is anticipating no new capital money from the state of Illinois.

Comments on the proposed budget can be emailed to [email protected], faxed to 312-322-7094, shared via or mailed to the assistant secretary to the Metra board, Room 1300, 547 W. Jackson Blvd., Chicago, IL, 60661.