Metra is exploring the idea of joining forces with a ride-provider service to raise money and hook up passengers with transportation.
The commuter rail agency announced Thursday it has opened up bidding for businesses to compete for the chance to be Metra's official ride-provider partner. Prospective partners could include traditional taxi companies or ride-share services such as Uber or Lyft.
The highest bidder will get exposure by having its name displayed at stations and on trains, timetables and Metra's website. The ride provider would also get to display information at downtown and suburban stations.
Metra officials, who on Wednesday agreed to study restructuring fares, said the move should generate extra funds.
It's also intended to bridge the "last mile" quandary, which refers to a situation where a public transit rider faces a lengthy walk from a station or bus stop to reach their final destination.
Bids will open in late August, and the initiative could start next year.
Ride-providers have been expanding in the suburbs and gained ground in 2015 when the city of Chicago permitted them to pick up passengers at O'Hare and Midway International Airports.
Metra has embarked on a 10-year program of capital improvements that will be funded by regular fare hikes.
Executive Director Don Orseno said the ride-provider partnership was one way to balance the agency's budget and keep fare increases low.