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Metra fare freeze comes with warning

October 11, 2018

Daily Journal staff and wire report

CHICAGO — Metra says it won’t increase fares next year. But the suburban Chicago commuter rail agency is warning it needs more money to improve its deteriorating system, or service will have to be cut.

The 2019 budget proposed Tuesday comes after four straight years of fare increases.

Metra CEO and Executive Director Jim Derwinski says it’s good news for customers but “Metra cannot continue to operate the system as it now exists” without more funding.

He says Metra is working with political and business leaders to solve the problem.

The agency says about 40 percent of its assets are in marginal or worn condition.

Half of Metra’s bridges are more than 100 years old, and its diesel cars have an average age of 30 years — the oldest in the nation.

Metra is used frequently by area residents who either work in Chicago or travel there for other purposes.

The nearest place to board is at Metra’s southernmost stop at University Park. It can be reached directly by using the local River Valley Metro transit system.

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