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November 15, 2021

Metra board gives go-ahead to $900m 2022 operating budget

Metra will trial a new $6 Day Pass for promoting short trips.

The board of directors of US-based transport operator Metra has sanctioned a 2022 operating budget of $900m, along with a 2022 capital programme of approximately $261m.

This 2022 capital programme has received a financial backing of $181.6m in federal formula funds, $74m from the state as well as $5.5m from the RTA.

The operating budget aims to support the restoration of service to pre-pandemic levels, making ‘conservative’ projections about the rise in ridership in 2022.

Metra will trial a new $6 Day Pass for encouraging short trips and increasing the passenger footfall.

Furthermore, the fare charges will not be increased in the coming year.

Metra CEO and executive director Jim Derwinski said: “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.

“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.”

For the operating budget, the agency makes the assumption that it will commence the year with ridership at nearly 25% of pre-pandemic levels and conclude the year at around 35%.

It has been assumed that fares and other system-generated revenues will stand at $146.4m.

The budget will also utilise $294.8m in federal Covid relief funding for operations and $458.8m in revenues from the regional transportation sales tax.

Metra plans to invest around $261m in locomotives, railcars, bridges and stations.

Nearly $40.8m will be allocated for rolling stock, primarily restorations and upgrades to existing cars and locomotives.

Work related to bridges, track and structures will receive an investment of $46.2m while $50.6m will be invested for signal, electrical and communications.

Around $33.4m will be spent on facilities and equipment and $59.4m on stations.

In addition, the Metra board gave green light to a two-phase contract worth $70m with VenTek International for the installation of 650 new ticket vending machines at every station.

Earlier this month, Metra started construction on the new Peterson Ridge Station on the Union Pacific North Line.

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