The cost of the popular 10-ride train ticket is poised to increase.
The Metra Board of Directors approved a rate increase of about 11 percent earlier this month. It will become final in mid-December when the board votes on its new budget and is expected to go into effect in February.
The increase comes one year after the agency’s biggest fare increase ever.
“Nobody wanted to hike any fares, but ridership has dipped, and state and federal support is questionable,” said Jack Schaffer, McHenry County’s representative on the board. “To maintain existing services and keep a state of good repair, we have to do these things.”
Ten-ride ticket users account for more than 20 percent of all Metra commuters. More than 50 percent of customers use monthly passes and the rest are single-ticket buyers – neither of which will see a fare increase.
The 10-ride ticket increase ranges from $2.75 to $9.25, depending on the zone. Metra estimates the increase will generate about $8.3 million in 2013 for capital improvements.
“With the big increase around the same time last year, the message I got loud and clear was that riders don’t want us to wait nine or 10 years and then hit them over the head with a two-by-four,” Schaffer said. “If we do have to increase ticket prices, they want it gradually and in small increments.”
The increase will put Metra in line with other commuter rail lines, said Schaffer, who voted to raise the 10-ride price.
In preparation, Metra has adopted temporary restrictions to prevent stockpiling of the 10-ride ticket at the current price. Tickets sold now through Jan. 31 will be valid only through Feb. 28.
The public will have an opportunity to weigh in on the increase, as well as the proposed $713.5 million budget, during public hearings in December.
The formal vote by the Metra board will be Dec. 14.
The Chicago Transit Authority also has proposed several fare increases as a part of its 2013 budget. Those could take effect in mid-January.