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Bring back discounted 10-ride ticket, Metra boss says

Updated: July 9, 2013 8:25PM

Metra’s Board chairman said Tuesday he will be recommending the suburban rail agency restore a popular discount on the cost of 10 rides following an 18 percent downturn in sales.

“Our customers have not been listened to,’’ O’Halloran said during an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times about the controversial severance package given ex-Metra CEO Alex Clifford.

“We are listening to them” now.

Also Tuesday, O’Halloran said former Secret Service agent Tim McCarthy, now the Orland Park police chief, has agreed to lead a blue-ribbon panel of suburban chiefs of police that will make recommendations about another subject of criticism — the Metra Police Force — within a 60- to 90-day period. The group also will help Metra find a new police chief, O’Halloran.

On the subject of fares, O’Halloran had good news for Metra riders forced since Feb. 1 to absorb the loss of what used to be a 10-ride ticket for the price of nine rides. The move was intended to raise $8.3 million in annual revenues and emerged a year after the biggest fare hike in the agency’s history.

However, the number of 10-ride tickets sold has dropped 18 percent for the first six months of the year compared to a similar period last year, Metra officials said.

And, instead of increasing revenues as intended, proceeds from 10-ride tickets has dropped by $3 million, or by 8 percent, officials said.

As a result, O’Halloran said he intends to recommend at the board’s next meeting, in August, that Metra restore 10 rides for the price of nine.

The entire Metra Board is expected to vote on the proposal at that time, a Metra spokesman said.

Bringing back the 10-ride ticket is among 10 goals O’Halloran said he plans to present to RTA board members Wednesday during a special RTA meeting on Clifford’s severance package.

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