Lipinski Questions Metra's Proposed Service Cuts and Fare Hikes, Says Public Must Have Input on Changes
Today, Congressman Dan Lipinski (IL-3) questioned Metra’s proposed service cuts and fare hikes, and called on the agency to fully explain its proposed changes, explore all cost-cutting options, and hold public meetings in affected communities before making any decisions that would impact the tens of thousands of daily Metra riders. Metra has stated it faces a budget deficit of $100 million due to falling sales tax revenues and expected higher fuel costs.
"I want to express my concern over Metra’s proposed fare increases and service reductions," Congressman Lipinski said in a letter to Metra. "I believe the agency needs to do more to inform the public about why it believes fare increases and/or service cuts are necessary and how Metra came to its current service reduction proposal.
"While Metra has said its proposal would minimize the impact on its customers, there are large disparities in the number of riders that would be affected on different lines and in the number of trains eliminated on different lines. Additional details and community meetings would help ensure that all options have been explored before any action is taken."
Weekday service cuts would have a major impact on Third District residents who utilize the BNSF, Rock Island District, and SouthWest lines. Under Metra’s current proposal, the BNSF and Rock Island District lines would each see four fewer trains per weekday, and the number of weekday riders impacted on the Rock Island line is far higher than the number on any other line.
In addition, SouthWest Service would see more trains cut than any other line in Metra’s system save one, and would entirely lose weekend service that Congressman Lipinski worked with Metra to establish more than two years ago. Yet the savings from the SouthWest line service cuts would be very small, amounting to far less than one percent of Metra’s total deficit.
"While I recognize that harsh fiscal realities force difficult decisions, I urge Metra to provide more details, carefully weigh its alternatives and make sure it achieves efficiencies so it can select options that do the least harm to the public," Congressman Lipinski said. "A successful passenger rail system is critical for the Chicagoland economy, for jobs, and for relieving congestion on our overcrowded roads. I want to make sure Metra fully informs and listens carefully to the public before making any decisions about either service reductions or fare increases."
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