A plan to reduce fares and boost service on Metra rail lines serving Chicago’s Far South Side and southern suburbs is building momentum. Officials hope cheaper and more frequent service on Metra’s Electric District and the Rock Island District lines will reverse declining ridership.
If realized, the move would cut ticket prices from the current level of $4 to $5.50 down to $2.50—the same price as a ride on the CTA’s L system. Details such as timing and any financial subsidies from Cook County are still being ironed out, the Chicago Tribune reported this earlier week. Officials are also exploring offering free Ventra transfers between Metra, CTA, and Pace.
A recent mobility study found that although southern Cook County has a higher proportion of transit-dependent residents, the area is lagging when it comes to transit access. Cheaper fares and more frequent service could boost ridership by as much as 33 percent and even lead to a net increase in revenue, according to the study.
In May, Illinois State Representative Marcus Evans Jr. introduced a bill aimed at slashing fares on Metra’s Electric District to CTA levels. If passed, the measure would take effect on June 1, 2020, according to the Tribune.
Though city officials have long discussed a plan to extend the CTA Red Line south of 95th Street, they currently lack the estimated $2.3 billion to do so. In the meantime, revitalizing the Metra’s existing Electric District and Rock Island District lines looks like a relatively easy and cost-effective solution.