For the third time in the past four years, Galewood and East Garfield Park residents who ride Metra will see their fares go up.
The Metra Board of Directors voted 9-1 to approve the increases during their Nov. 11 meeting. On Feb. 1, 2017, the one-way fares will go up by 25 cents, while 10-ride tickets will go up by $2.75 and monthly passes will go up by $7.50.
Riders who use any station in Galewood and West Humboldt Park will now have to pay $4.00 to get downtown, and riders who use East Garfield Park’s Kedzie station will now pay $3.75.
The riders who spoke to Austin Weekly News were either resigned to the change or said that paying more was worth it.
The Milwaukee District West Metra line serves as Austin community area’s northern boundary, and it has five stations that serve Galewood and the neighborhoods to the north. The Mont Clare and Galewood stations serve their eponymous neighborhoods, while Hanson Park station serves that neighborhood and Galewood, Grand/Cicero station serves Galewood and West Humboldt Park.
The Mars station is a special stop that serves the company’s Galewood plant. Metra trains only stop at the Mars station during rush hours and they don’t stop at Hanover Park and Grand/Cicero stations on weekends.
The $4.00 the riders would have to pay to get downtown is almost twice as much as the $2.25 ‘L’ fare – but it would represent savings for riders who commute to the suburbs, since they wouldn’t have to pay the ‘L’ fare to reach the Harlem station.
In 2012, Metra Board of Directors voted to raise the price of all of its tickets, effective Feb. 1, 2013, to address a funding shortfall. In 2014, the board agreed to have regular fare increases for the next ten years, with a significant portion of it going toward paying for capital projects, such as switch signal upgrades, train repairs and bridge repairs.
The plan went off-track last year due Illinois state government’s inability to pass the budget. The stalemate left Metra without matching funds it was counting on, and it was force to put many projects on hold.