Metra rolls out proposal for sweeping fare changes

Metra is asking the public to comment on a proposed major change to fares that would streamline the system from 10 zones to four.

The goal is to "create a system that is easily understandable to customers" and encourages ridership, Operations Planning and Analysis Senior Manager Dan Miodonski said at a Wednesday meeting.

Under the plan, the downtown stations would be in Zone 1. Zone 2 would include many Chicago stops as well as suburbs closer to the city such as Brookfield, Evanston, Franklin Park, Harvey and Oak Park.

Zone 3 encompasses the next ring of towns such as Arlington Heights, Downers Grove (Fairview Station), Glenview, Lombard, Chicago Ridge, Wheeling and Winnetka.

Zone 4 contains farther municipalities including Barrington, Elgin, Geneva, Joliet, Libertyville, Mundelein and Naperville.

"This highly complex, highly transformational policy is the largest change to the way customers will interact with Metra in Metra's history," Executive Director Jim Derwinski said.

The revamp isn't only based on miles to downtown but also takes into consideration individual lines, Miodonski said.

"The idea here is that zones would be consolidated based on factors such as service, geography and ridership characteristics," he said.

• One-way tickets to downtown (Zone 1) would cost $3.75 from Zone 2, $5.50 from Zone 3 and $6.75 from Zone 4. Costs would be lower or equal to current prices; for example a ticket to Oak Park is $4.25 now and would be $3.75 if fares are revised.

To promote travel between non-downtown locations, Metra would offer a flat-rate fare of $3.75 for passengers journeying within Zones 2, 3 and 4.

• Day passes would cost twice as much as one-way tickets and provide unlimited rides within zones selected.

• Five-day passes would replace 10-ride tickets and be 9½ times the cost of a one-way ticket. For example, a five-day pass to Arlington Heights would cost $52.25.

• Traditional monthly passes would be 20 times a one-way ticket. That means a monthly pass between downtown and Lombard would cost $110. Pre-pandemic a monthly pass between Chicago and Lombard was $181.25.

Metra did shake up its traditional offerings during the pandemic with a popular Super Saver $100 monthly unlimited ride pass. The Super Saver would be discontinued under the new proposal.

Officials will seek public feedback before the board votes on the proposal in August. It would be implemented in 2024.

"I believe we're on a great path," Derwinski said. "We are moving forward and we are going to start those conversations in earnest with the public."

A detailed description of the plan is available at, and riders may email comments to

For seniors, kindergarten to grade 12 students, and active duty military, Metra will offer reduced fares of about 50%.

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