The daily grind may hit Chicago commuters' wallets differently as Metra's mulling a fare revamp that could launch in 2024, which promises simpler, though not necessarily cheaper, ways to get around. Sources at ABC7 Chicago report the transit agency is pitching a fare shake-up that might see their labyrinthine 10-zone fare system get the axe, replaced with a straightforward four-zone fare structure aimed at easing the commuter's journey.
Riders crossing into the downtown core, or Zone 1, might see fares range from $3.75 to $6.75, depending on their origin. Right now, though these figures could change, a one-day fiesta of unlimited rides could cost double the one-way fare in contrast to the current 10-ride ticket that'd get tossed in favor of a digital-only five-day pass bundle, as divulged by ABC7 Chicago.
The RTA is laying down plans to extend a warm hand with reduced fares to SNAP beneficiaries, according to the Chicago Tribune. "Transit is the answer to connecting the most vulnerable people in a region to jobs, health care, and other opportunities," RTA CFO Kevin Bueso stated in What's a shake-up amid a stoic daily rider count lingering at about 60% of pre-pandemic volumes, and does this initiative have the momentum to amp it up?
Strap in, though, as there's heavy fiscal fog ahead. By 2026, RTA's federal relief fund, which fuels nearly a fifth of their budget, is going to run dry, cranking suspicions of a $700 million shortcoming, leaving transformational changes like these in a tight spot even as ridership claws its way back up following the colossal COVID slump.