Celebrating tonight? Don't forget public transit
If you're headed out to celebrate New Year's Eve in Chicago, both the CTA and Metra are offering incentives to lure revelers out of cars and onto public transit.
Typically, the last late-night Metra trains leave the city for the suburbs between 12:30 and 12:40 a.m. However, on New Year's Eve, the agency will hold trains on certain routes until 1:15 a.m., spokeswoman Meg Reile said.
Those routes include the Union Pacific, BNSF and Milwaukee District Lines.
The agency is modifying schedules today to reflect large numbers of passengers leaving work early. To find out if your regularly scheduled train has been affected, go to metrarail.com/metra/en/home.html.
In addition, you can cruise across Chicago by bus or train for free as the Chicago Transit Authority gives riders a break between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. It's an annual tradition, which is expected to provide about 150,000 free rides.
The CTA also is extending its hours of operation and increasing service on a number of well-used bus and rail routes. To find out more, go to www.transitchicago.com/.
Metra is offering its own deals with a Family Fare that allows up to three children age 11 and younger to ride free with a paying adult through Friday. Find details of the program at www.transitchicago.com/.
Meanwhile, truckers using Illinois tollways will see a spike in rates starting New Year's Day.
At the average toll plaza, truckers will see tolls jump by 40 percent in 2015, followed by 10 percent in 2016 and 10 percent in 2017. That means a large truck using an I-PASS that's charged $4 at the Elgin toll plaza now would pay $5.60 in 2015.
The extra cash from truckers will help boost toll revenues by $155 million in 2015.
The new truck rates were announced back in 2008 during the tenure of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich. But while it's no surprise, the increase will have a trickle-down effect, Mid-West Truckers Association Executive Vice President Don Schafer said.
"Somewhere, someone has to absorb the toll increase. I suppose somewhere along the line, the shipper or the consumer will pay," Schafer said this fall.
Some truckers will use local roads to avoid the higher rates, but not many, Schafer thinks.
"There's no option outside the tollway for efficient travel through Chicago," he said.