Metra gives the green light to Cook County Fair Transit South Cook project

Nov. 16, 2020
The pilot project aims to lower fares and expand service to suburban communities south of Chicago.

The Metra Board of Directors approved an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) with Cook County on Nov. 13 for the Fair Transit South Cook project, which is designed to improve transit service on the south side of Chicago and in the south suburbs.  

“Metra is excited to work with Cook County to improve public transportation in the region and act as a catalyst for economic development and growth,” said Metra CEO/Executive Director Jim Derwinski.

The Fair Transit South Cook initiative is a three-year pilot program that is set to launch in January 2021 between Cook County, Metra and Pace. The project targets transit service improvements within a region that is more transit-dependent and economically-disadvantaged.

With the IGA in place, Metra will extend its reduced fare rates, which normally apply to seniors, persons with disabilities and K-12 students, for all tickets to all riders on the Metra Electric and Rock Island lines starting in January. Metra explains these changes can be implemented immediately as they do not require a change in fare structure.

Cook County will cover the difference between the reduced fares and full fares for three years. Cook County believes that level of service and cost are driving factors in public transit utilization. The pilot program will examine and address these factors in phased rollouts.

“Cook County is extremely excited to partner with Metra and Pace to bring enhanced and affordable transit options to residents and workers in the Southland,” said Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle. “This is part of our overall approach to ensure that we are equitably allocating public resources to benefit our communities with the greatest need.”

The plan also includes expansion of Pace’s 352 Halsted Service, which will improve the hours and frequency of service between the Chicago Transit Authority Red Line 95th/Dan Ryan Station and the Pace Chicago Heights Terminal on weekdays, Saturday and Sunday. As Fair Transit moves forward, additional improvements to service options will be made.

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Group Editorial Director

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine and group editorial director of the Infrastructure and Aviation Group at Endeavor Business Media. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the editorial direction of the group and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.