Metra weighed down by coronavirus woes

Written by David C. Lester, Editor-in-Chief
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David C. Lester

As the world continues to reel from the impact of the coronavirus, commuter rail operations have hit the skids. Earlier this week, RT&S reported on the troubles at MBTA in Boston, which are emblematic of the challenges all commuter roads are dealing with.

Although it’s no surprise, the Chicago Sun Times reported yesterday that Metra, the commuter rail agency in Chicago, is projecting a loss of 97 percent of its ridership during the next two months, and over $500 million for this year and into next year. This outlook was presented by Tom Farmer, Metra’s Chief Financial Officer.

Farmer said “To deal with this we need to understand what the ‘new normal’ is. We need to actively innovate to meet the changing public needs.”

Metra spokesperson Michael Gillis said “We expect this [the ridership and financial losses] will change, but this is the best picture we can paint right now. I think it’s too early to know what this means. We know we are getting some federal help and we are going to need some help beyond that.”

Gillis added that Metra expects to get $400 million in federal aid, but is not sure when they will get the money.

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