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Metra won’t increase fares in 2020 and will prioritize backlog of improvements

The state capital bill will help the commuter rail service

A silver commuter train crosses a street passing low buildings, trees and empty tracks.
A Metra train in Chicago.

Metra won’t raise fares in 2020 which means the agency hasn’t asked customers to pay more for two years in a row.

The new state capital bill will let the transit agency budget $2.6 million for improvements over the next five years. A priority will be the updating and improving railcars, locomotives, stations, bridges, and services.

“We now have a significant infusion of capital dollars to help us begin to attack our backlog of capital work,” said Metra CEO and executive director Jim Derwinski in a statement.

Looking ahead, Metra cut its budget by $21 million through reducing overtime, not filling vacancies, and minimizing other expenses.

Those reductions help offset an expected $26 million increase in operating costs for next year including implementation of Positive Train Control (PTC). The federally mandated safety program is an advanced system designed to automatically stop a train before certain accidents related to human error occur.

More improvement projects by Metra funded by the capital bill will be released in October but it can be expected that work will focus on new cars and locomotives, station improvements such as ADA updates, updating century-old bridges, and service enhancements.