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On Nov. 3, Evanston Alderman Donald Wilson (Ward 4) testified before a Metra budget meeting discussing some of his concerns about proposed fare increases and Union Pacific Railroad infrastructure needs in Evanston. In the proposed 2012 Metra Budget, the document indicated that the current UP North Line schedule would remain unchanged; UP North Line Bridge replacements were still progressing North from Chicago; and discussed proposed staff recommendations for fare increase.

“The City of Evanston truly appreciated CEO Clifford’s visit to the city a few weeks ago. We appreciated him spending time reviewing the infrastructure needs that the city believes are important,” explained Alderman Wilson, a daily rider of Metra’s UP North Line. “It was a great opportunity for him to see the city and really get to see firsthand what we, as elected officials and our residents, believe are important infrastructure needs and to prioritize what we as a city are looking to accomplish.”

UP North Line Bridge Replacement will continue for UP bridges from Fullerton north to Balmoral with funds from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Federal Funds. No City of Evanston bridges are currently included to be replaced, but the city remains optimistic to be an active partner with Metra in their future capital planning process and legislative activities to obtain funding for it.

To make up for a $100 million budget deficit, Metra staff proposed a system wide 25% fare increase. This will impact Evanston Metra riders by the following:

  • Monthly Pass Holder – Increase monthly cost $30.55 (from $90.45 currently to $121.00) for a going from Zone C (all 3 Evanston stops to Zone A City of Chicago) – A 33.7 % increase
  • Ten- Ride – Increase cost by $9.75 (from $28.50 currently to 38.25) for a going from Zone C (all 3 Evanston stops to Zone A City of Chicago) – A 35% increase
  • One-Way – Increase cost by $0.75 (from $3.50 currently to $4.25) for a going from Zone C (all 3 Evanston stops to Zone A City of Chicago) – A 21% increase

Riders whose travel originates in zones close to downtown Chicago will see their fare increase in 2012 at a higher percentage than those riders originating in communities who live father away under the proposed budget. For example, a monthly Metra pass for someone who travels from Evanston (Zone C) to Ogilvie Transportation Center (Zone A) will pay 33.7% more in 2012, while a rider coming in from Kenosha (Zone M) to Ogilvie Transportation Center (Zone A) will only pay 22% more.

“I believe the proposed fare increases are unfair. Riders in zones A, B and C will pay proportionately more than riders who are further away from Chicago,” added Alderman Wilson. “I am not suggesting that other zones fares be raised to the same level, but I believe that that fare increases could be made more equitable. I don’t want people who live closer to the city, who could drive, to choose cars over Metra because of a disproportionate fare increase; I don’t want to put more people on the road.”

“Now that Metra has a better understanding of the City of Evanston’s Metra infrastructure needs, I am looking for a commitment, timetable and plan to tell residents when we can expect progress to fixing our UP bridges. Chicago already has a plan in the works and underway, and I would like for Evanston to be next. The City of Evanston has been able to work in a collaborative way with CTA to address infrastructure needs, but now we would like to be included in Metra’s long-term infrastructure plans,” Alderman Wilson concluded in his remarks at the Metra meeting.