Metra tries $100 monthly passes to lure back elusive riders

  • Metra is slashing prices for its monthly pass in an effort to bulk up ridership decimated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Metra is slashing prices for its monthly pass in an effort to bulk up ridership decimated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Daily Herald File Photo

Updated 6/1/2022 3:16 PM

Metra is slashing its typical rates for monthly passes in an effort to pump up ridership deflated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The agency will run a pilot project between July and September offering $100 monthly passes with unlimited rides.


That's about half price compared to monthly passes between downtown and Arlington Heights, which cost $195.75, or between Naperville and Union Station, which are $210.25, for example.

The discount is a strategy to build ridership, spokesman Mike Gillis said. "With gas prices so high, we wanted to make it an even easier choice -- a no-brainer -- to choose Metra.

"We don't know what the revenue impact will be; but we obviously hope to boost ridership and boost revenues. That is what we will be monitoring closely during the three-month pilot period."

"Super Saver" passes for July will go on sale June 20 and may be purchased using the Ventra app or from ticket agents. They will display the buyer's original zone and destination zone but are good across the system.

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"Put simply, this is a great deal. For the price of a tank of gas, or a trip to a baseball game, you can travel all over the Chicago area on Metra for a month," Executive Director Jim Derwinski said in a statement.

Reduced fair passes for students, children and eligible seniors will also be slashed to $70 during the time period.

Daily ridership in April 2019 was 6,204,720, according to the Regional Transportation Authority but commuter numbers plummeted when COVID-19 emerged in 2020. April 2022 daily ridership stands at 1,856,227.

"Metra's recovery from the pandemic requires that we look at all the options on the table to reinvent our service by listening to My Metra riders, creating new schedules, and exploring fare incentives that allow riders to return or try our system at affordable rates," Derwinski said.

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