Galewood Metra station | Igor Studenkov/Contributor

Metra is proposing the most significant fare overhaul in decades – one that would reduce ticket prices for Austin and East Garfield Park riders and get rid of popular system-wide day and monthly passes.

Under the proposed fare changes, which Metra’s board will vote on in August, the commuter rail system would go from 10 fare zones to four and create a flat $3.75 fare for riders who whose trip doesn’t begin or end at Union Station and other downtown terminals. Metra would eliminate its $10 system-wide day pass and $6 day pass that’s good for three fare zones, replacing them with a zone-based one-day pass that would cost the equivalent of two one-way tickets. The 10-Ride tickets, which allow riders to make 10 one-way trips for a price of nine, would be replaced with a Ventra-only “Bundle” of five day passes that would cost the equivalent of 9.5 one-way tickets.

Most notably, it would replace the $100 system-wide monthly pass with fare zone based monthly passes that would cost the equivalent of 16 one-way tickets.

All those changes would represent a price decrease for Galewood, North Austin and East Garfield Park riders. The price of one-way tickets between Chicago Union Station and all the Milwaukee District West stations that serve Galewood and North Austin would go down from $4.25 to $3.75. The cost of traveling between East Garfield Park’s Kedzie station and the Ogilvie Transportation Center would see a smaller drop, going from $4 to $3.75 — but given that most riders use the station to reverse-commute to the suburbs, the savings would be larger for riders traveling to Oak Park and beyond. The monthly pass would cost $75.

The changes come as Metra is facing a fiscal cliff as federal stimulus funds are expected to run out in 2026. The proposal tries to strike a balance between attracting more riders, especially those who don’t follow traditional suburb-to-downtown commuting patterns, while putting more money in Metra’s coffers.

Last year, Metra proposed eliminating unlimited monthly passes and day passes, but backed down after opposition from the Metra directors representing the collar counties and some parts of suburban Cook County. The changes would have raised fares for the collar counties, and the directors argued that Metra shouldn’t get rid of popular monthly passes and should instead simplify the fare structure. This year’s changes would result in less drastic increases for the collar counties and address some of the directors’ earlier concerns.

Metra is currently soliciting feedback on its fare proposal. For more details, and to submit comments, visit

Igor Studenkov is a winner of multiple Illinois Press Association awards for local government and business reporting. He has been contributing to Austin Weekly News since 2015. His work has also appeared...