Metra fare hikes to take effect in February

Metra fare hikes to take effect in February

Metra’s plans to raise fares go into effect February, hurting commuters and failing to raise enough for stated capital needs.

Metra’s planned fare hike is set to go into effect Feb. 1, marking the third consecutive year prices increased.

Fares will go up an average 5.8 percent for commuters and will be reflected across all types of tickets with 25 cents more for one-way passes, $2.75 more for 10-trip passes and $11.75 more for monthly passes. For commuters who have a monthly pass, annual costs of taking the Metra will increase by $141, WTTW reported. Metra announced the decision Nov. 2016 as part of a 10-year, $2.4 billion modernization plan passed in 2014 and in an effort to catch up on an extensive backlog of projects. Currently, Metra needs $1.2 billion annually to catch up on backlogged capital projects, yet it is expected that Metra will have less than $300 million for its stated needs and the increase in fares will only raise a meager $16 million, according to WTTW.

And worse yet, the fare hikes will hit middle- and working-class people hardest.

An additional $141 annually may not sound like a lot to the Metra board, but it is a different story for everyday people commuting to work. A new report from Bankrate shows that nearly six in 10 Americans do not even have $500 in savings to cover an emergency cost, according to CNN Money. Unfortunately, Metra is not the only government entity that seems oblivious to this sad reality. Illinois has some of the highest property taxes in the country, the highest sales tax in the Midwest and yet there is still talk of more tax hikes in the proposed Senate budget. Like the politicians in Springfield, Metra is not trying to implement necessary structural reforms.

Although Metra took more than 81 million passengers on trips in 2015, Metra lost $350 million before depreciation because of fiscal mismanagement. And after announcing it was going to raise fares on commuters, Metra CEO Dan Orseno received a $28,000 salary raise.

Metra’s fare hike shows how out of touch the organization truly is. Instead of addressing its own failings, the agency would rather squeeze the people who depend on its services for money that won’t even put a dent in the amount of money it needs to raise.

Metra’s raise in fares is just another example of how Illinois government is steamrolling middle-and working-class people. Instead of having commuters pay for its failings, Metra should reform from within and end costly practices that cause annual fare hikes.

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