News & Reviews News Wire Metra releases draft budget, new strategic plan

Metra releases draft budget, new strategic plan

By David Lassen | October 14, 2022

| Last updated on November 11, 2022

Budget offers options to consider fare discounts; agency seeks comments on plan for 2023-27

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Commuter train arrives at station on curve
A Metra Milwaukee District-West train arrives at Hanover Park, Ill., on June 24, 2022. Metra has released a draft budget for 2023 and a new five-year strategic plan. David Lassen

CHICAGO — Commuter rail operator Metra has released a proposed 2023 operating budget of $980 million that includes several options for continuing to discount monthly passes and simplifying other aspects of its fare structure, as well as plans for more than $500 million in capital spending.

The agency is also soliciting comment on a newly released five-year strategic plan.

Metra is currently offering a series of post-pandemic special fares including a $100 “Super Saver” monthly pass; one proposal under the new budget would price a regular monthly pass at the cost of 16 one-way fares, more than the current pass but less than the 29 one-way fares that determined the monthly pass rate prior to the pandemic. Another proposal could potentially lead to retaining the current $100 monthly pass, as well as existing $6 and $10 day passes. Metra’s board will chose a fare option when it votes on the budget in November.

The $980 million operating budget represents an increase of 9.8%, or $80 million, from the fiscal 2022 budget. The increase reflects higher costs, greater expenses from returning service and headcounts to pre-pandmeic levels, and costs associated with capital and strategic programs, Metra said.

The $504.6 million capital budget includes $119.6 for station projects, including funds for construction of two new stations (Peterson Ridge and Auburn Park); reconstruction and platform replacement at 10 stations, and design work for improvements at five other stations. Other notable portions of the capital plan include $70.8 million for railcar rehabilitation and purchase, $33.3 million for locomotive improvements, and $32.1 million for bridge replacement and rehabilitation.

The full proposed budget is available here.

Strategic plan looks to 2027

Metra’s 24-page draft strategic plan covers the years 2023-2027. It somewhat shifts the focus from its predecessor, which covered the years 2018 to 2022 and focused on chronic funding shortfalls. The new document includes a focus on issues brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, including new commuting patterns, a desire for new forms of service, and workforce issues.

“This plan is intended to be a roadmap leading Metra from where we are now to where we want to be in five years,” Metra Jim Derwinski said in announcing the document. “Our vision and goals are ambitious, and will require significant energy and commitment to meet, but the spirit of My Metra compels us to do everything within our ability and budget to make Metra the best it can be.”

The strategic plan sets five goals — for example, to enhance service to grow ridership and provide mobility choices, and to innovate to become more efficient and effective — and sets objectives to measure those goals. Interested parties can review the document available here and provide comments through a form available here. Those comments will be accepted through Nov. 18. The agency also will hold a virtual public meeting on the plan Oct. 26 and in-person open houses in conjunction with hearings on the 2023 budget. A link to the online meeting and schedule for the open-house meeting are or will be available here.

2 thoughts on “Metra releases draft budget, new strategic plan

  1. The best thing Metra could do is have half-hourly off-peak service on all routes. The two or three-hour headways offered on Sundays and less than-hourly service on Saturday cause people to skip metra and drive. These routes, if there were half-hour headways, could significantly reduce congestion on the Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Edens expressway.

  2. “Metra is currently offering a series of post-pandemic special fares including a $100 “Super Saver” monthly pass”

    Is this for all zones, all services pass?

    Zone E was $104 back in 2000. This would be an incredible deal if it is as expected.

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