Chicago’s Metra will begin two year-long test programs that it hopes will attract new riders by lowering fares from some of its stations and simplifying its fare structure.
In May, the Metra board of directors approved testing several recommendations that emerged from a study of its fare policies. The first was to consolidate its outer zones, thereby capping fares for trips that exceed 45 miles.
The second test program approved by the board will reassign some stations to different zones to adjust perceived inconsistencies between lines where nearby stations are in different zones. Station reassignments will equalize fares for customers who board at Metra stations on different lines with similar distances to downtown, and may encourage more local use of these stations.
Both pilot programs will be evaluated after a year to determine if they resulted in ridership gains and if the changes should remain in place. Metra plans to test another study recommendation later this year by introducing a one-day pass for unlimited travel between any two zones. The day pass will be available for purchase on the Ventra App only and is expected to be introduced when a new Ventra App is unveiled later this year.