The Metra Board of Directors last week approved a 2022 operating budget of $900 million and a 2022 capital program of nearly $261 million.
The operating budget makes conservative assumptions about ridership growth in 2022 but funds the restoration of service to pre-pandemic levels. To incentivize short trips and attract more customers, the agency will test a new $6 Day Pass that will be valid for unlimited rides within three zones for a full day. There will be no fare increase next year.
“There’s still a great deal of uncertainty nearly two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, but our job is to be there for our riders,” said Metra CEO/Executive Director Jim Derwinski. “Adopting a budget with a conservative outlook to ridership growth and using federal relief funding so that we can ramp up our service in 2022 means that we’ll be ready when My Metra riders are ready.”
The operating budget assumes Metra will begin the year with ridership at about 25% of pre-pandemic levels and finish the year at about 35%. That conservative assumption for ridership growth projects $146.4 million from fares and other system-generated revenues. The $900 million budget also uses $458.8 million in revenues from the regional transportation sales tax and $294.8 million in federal COVID relief funding for operations.
The new $6 Day Pass, valid for unlimited travel all day between three zones or less, will be offered as a one-year pilot program in addition to the current $10 Day Pass, which is valid for unlimited travel all day across all 10 fare zones. The three-zone pass will be a more affordable option for shorter and intermediate trips, such as between suburbs or between Chicago neighborhoods, and could also be useful for college students commuting to class. Both day passes will be available only in the Ventra app, and the Round Trip Plus Ticket will be discontinued.
“With the new Day Pass, we want to provide our riders with value and the flexibility they need right now,” Derwinski said. “We are committed to rebounding from the pandemic and giving our riders schedules that accommodate their needs so that My Metra remains the region’s safest and most efficient transportation option.”
Other fare changes include reducing the expiration dates on the 10-Ride Ticket from one year to 90 days and on the One-Way Ticket from 90 days to 14 days. The changes will begin Feb. 1, 2022.
Metra’s 2022 capital budget of nearly $261 million continues significant investment in railcars, locomotives, bridges and stations. The work includes:
- $40.8 million for rolling stock, primarily rehabilitations and upgrades to current cars and locomotives
- $46.2 million for bridges, track, and structures
- $50.6 million for signal, electrical and communications
- $33.4 million for facilities and equipment
- $59.4 million for stations, primarily rehabilitations and replacements to existing stations, platforms, shelters, and elevators
- $30.5 million for support activities
The 2022 capital program is funded by $181.6 million in federal formula funds, $74 million from the state and $5.5 million from the RTA.
The full 2022 Operating & Capital Program & Budget can be found here.