Metra proposed a $900 million operating budget for 2022 that will not raise fare rates for riders.
The agency said it’s making conservative assumptions about ridership growth for next year and funds needed for the restoration of services to pre-pandemic levels, according to a news release. The spread of COVID-19 last year caused ridership to plummet.
“After nearly two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, there remains a great deal of uncertainty about how and when things will return to normal,” Metra CEO/Executive Director Jim Derwinski said in a statement. “We feel the most responsible approach is to be cautious with our assumptions about the growth in ridership while at the same time ramping up our service.”
Metra’s budget assumes it will begin the year with ridership at about 25% of pre-pandemic levels and will finish the year at about 35%.
The 2022 budget uses $458.8 million from the regional transportation sales tax and $202 million in federal pandemic relief funding. Metra is also requesting an additional $92.8 million in relief funding from the RTA, which is responsible for distributing the third round of federal aid.
Metra said it also plans to spend nearly $263 million in work on its railcars, locomotives, bridges and stations.
Four Metra lines, Heritage Corridor, Metra Electric District, Rock Island District, and Southwest Service, have stops in Will County.
The agency is hosting in-person and virtual public hearings on its budget around the Chicago area including at the Will County Office Building, located at 302 N. Chicago St. in Joliet, from 4 to 7 p.m on Nov. 3.
Metra also announced it will test a new $6 day pass valid for unlimited rides within three zones as a one-year pilot program.