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Metra hikes price of 10-ride ticket

Updated: December 19, 2012 1:14PM



Metra riders will pay more for 10-ride tickets beginning as soon as February.

The Metra board on Friday voted 8 to 2 to approve a fare hike to generate an estimated $8.3 million, a year after the commuter rail agency raised its fares to the highest level in its history.

The affected riders, 22 percent of Metra’s customers, will pay what equates to 10-one way fares for 10, instead of paying nine one-way tickets for 10, the discount riders had been offered.

Customers could see the price of the 10-ride tickets increase anywhere from $2.75 to $9.25, depending on the tickets’ zone, which are determined by distance.

Mike McCoy, a Metra board member from Kane County voiced his concerns over any increase, saying riders already suffered last year when fares increased by an average 25 percent. He recommended the board warn riders much further ahead of a fare increase and that riders should have been given “a year of relief.”

Board member Jim LaBelle agreed, saying he would have rather supported an alternative plan for a three percent increase in fares for all riders, instead of singling out more frequent riders.

Both McCoy and Labelle voted no to increasing the fare while others said the hike is necessary in a faltering economy.

“Nobody wants to do a fare increase of any kind, but realistically we have to do something each year and hope for the best,” board member Jack Schaeffer said. “…We could be here next summer rustling with some really big problems with no fault of our own. But here is something we can be blamed for, and that is doing nothing right now.”

Metra said the savings will be used for capital needs, such as maintenance and equipment.

Riders rushing to catch Friday afternoon trains at the Ogilvie Transportation Center weren’t too happy about another hike.

James Neaylon commutes from Arlington Heights while training in downtown Chicago for a new job. He’s a 10-ticket rider and says he’s still fed up with last year’s hike.

“It stinks because they’re really not improving service and making times faster, headways, or adding more trains,” Neaylon said. “We already had to handle last year’s hikes, which was well past inflation. I think it’s bogus. It’s bogus.”

Another commuter from Evanston said she thinks the hike will isolate 10-ride customers, whom she said might not be able to afford a monthly pass and may choose other forms of transportation to cut costs.

“I think it will be harder for the 10-riders, because those are sometimes the people who maybe don’t come down as much to the city and maybe can’t afford to pay more,” Beverly Lietzau said. “I think more people will be riding the L or come into the city less.”

Metra says riders who buy the 10-ride tickets Friday through Jan. 31 can use the discounted rate until Feb. 28.

The public will get a chance to voice a comment on the hike in public hearings on Dec. 11. The board will vote to formally add the hike to its $713.5 million 2013 budget next month.



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