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Metra’s new fare system, changes in ticketing coming soon – NBC Chicago

by Staff

Next month will see the introduction of a new fare system for Metra trains in the Chicago area, but there will also be massive changes to how tickets are purchased for some riders.

According to the agency, Metra will close its remaining ticket windows at BNSF Line stations on Monday, switching to a model where tickets can only be purchased via the Ventra app and at vending machines.

All ticket windows at downtown stations in Chicago will close by Feb. 1, according to a press release.

In addition to the changes in ticketing, the agency will simplify its rate structure on Feb. 1, cutting down from 10 different fare zones to just four, based on distance from downtown Chicago.

The new zone system will feature downtown Chicago as its own zone, with Union Station, the Ogilvie Transportation Center and Millennium Station serving as Zone 1 on the various lines.

From there, Zones 2-through-4 will cover the city’s suburbs, with Zone 4 the furthest from downtown.

One-way tickets will cost $3.75 from Zone 2 into the city, $5.50 from Zone 3 into downtown, and $6.75 from Zone 4, under the simplified formula.

All one-way trips that do not end in the downtown corridor will cost $3.75, no matter the distance, according to the agency.

Metra officials say that most lines will see reductions in fare to pre-pandemic levels, with one exception, as the Fair Transit South Cook Pilot, which slashed prices in half on all Metra Electric and Rock Island trains, will end.

Instead, a new pilot program will launch on that same date, offering reduced fares to low-income Metra riders throughout the system. SNAP-recipient households will be among those eligible to participate, with more details to come in mid-January.

There will also be some big changes to pass availability at all levels, The agency says that their $6 and $10 day passes will be phased out. Instead, weekday passes will be available for twice the cost of a one-way ticket.

The agency will also phase out 10-ride tickets, and will instead offer five-packs of day passes, at the cost of 9.5 times that of a single-ride ticket.

Those passes will only be available via the Ventra app.

Finally, “incremental fares,” which instituted surcharges for travel beyond the zones printed on a ticket, will be phased out.

Monthly passes will still be offered, and will be 20-times the cost of a standard one-way ticket between zones, running at $75 for Zone 2 travel, $110 for Zone 3 travel, and $135 for Zone 4.

To help smooth the transition, monthly passes for February will go on sale Feb. 1, with January paper passes good through Feb. 5.

Monthly pass purchasing for March will resume on its regular date on Feb. 20, according to officials.

Monthly-pass buyers will still be eligible to purchase the $30 Regional Connect Pass, which permits unlimited travel on the CTA and Pace buses. That pass will only be available on the Ventra app, according to officials.

Finally, $7 all-day fares on weekends and holidays, and $10 weekend passes, will still be available.

Here’s how the four-zone fare structure will be assigned

UP-North:

Zone 1: Downtown Chicago

Zone 2: Clybourn-to-Wilmette

Zone 3: Kenilworth-to-Ravinia

Zone 4: Highland Park-to-Kenosha

Milwaukee District North:

Zone 1: Downtown Chicago

Zone 2: Downtown-to-Morton Grove

Zone 3: Golf-to-Lake Cook Road

Zone 4: Deerfield-to-Fox Lake

UP-Northwest:

Zone 1: Downtown Chicago

Zone 2: Downtown-to-Dee Road

Zone 3: Des Plaines-to-Arlington Park

Zone 4: Palatine-to-Harvard

Milwaukee District West:

Zone 1: Downtown Chicago

Zone 2: Downtown-to-Mannheim

Zone 3: Bensenville-to-Medinah

Zone 4: Roselle-to-Big Timber

UP-West:

Zone 1: Downtown Chicago

Zone 2: Kedzie Avenue-to-Berkeley

Zone 3: Elmhurst-to-Lombard

Zone 4: Glen Ellyn-to-Elburn

BNSF:

Zone 1: Downtown Chicago

Zone 2: Halsted Avenue-to-Brookfield

Zone 3: Congress Park-to-Fairview Avenue

Zone 4: Main Street-to-Route 59 Aurora

Heritage Corridor

Zone 1: Downtown Chicago

Zone 2: Summit

Zone 3: Willow Springs and Lemont

Zone 4: Romeoville-to-Joliet

Rock Island:

Zone 1: Downtown Chicago

Zone 2 (Mainline): 35th Street-to-Midlothian

Zone 2 (Beverly Branch: Brainerd-to-123rd Street

Zone 3: Oak Forest and Tinley Park (Oak Park Avenue)

Zone 4: Tinley Park (80th Avenue)-to-Joliet

Southwest Service:

Zone 1: Downtown Chicago

Zone 2: Wrightwood and Ashburn

Zone 3: Oak Lawn-to-Palos Heights

Zone 4: Palos Park-to-Manhattan

Metra Electric Line:

Zone 1: Millennium Station-to-Museum Campus

Zone 2 (Mainline): 18th Street-to-Calumet

Zone 2 (South Chicago Branch): Stony Island-to-93rd Street

Zone 2 (Blue island Branch): State Street (Roselawn)-to-Blue Island

Zone 3: Homewood-to-University Park

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