Metra will revamp its fare structure for 2024, replacing the existing 10-zone distance-based structure with a four-zone structure. Fares under the new structure are set at or below prepandemic levels. Promotional fares introduced during the pandemic are being discontinued.
The new fare structure was approved as part of Metra's 2024 budget and will take effect on Feb. 1, 2024.
Metra's goal is to create a fare structure that customers can easily understand, that encourages ridership, simplifies onboard fare collection, and meets Metra’s financial and technical constraints.
Currently, there are 10 fare zones for One-Way and 10-Ride tickets, essentially two zones for weekday Day Passes and one zone (or, a flat rate) for Monthly Passes, Saturday or Sunday (or Holiday) Day Passes and Weekend Passes.
Under the new fare structure, the following changes will be implemented:
- Zones: The 10 fare zones will be discontinued and replaced with four zones (see map below) for One-Way Tickets, weekday Day Passes and Monthly Passes and one zone for all weekend passes. Downtown stations will be assigned to Zone 1 and outlying stations will be assigned to Zones 2 through 4 based on a combination of distance from downtown, service patterns and ridership characteristics on each line, which vary.
- The 10-Ride Ticket: The 10-Ride Ticket will be replaced with a new fare product, a Day Pass 5-Pack. The 5-Pack will be available only on the Ventra app and priced the same as the 10-Ride Ticket, at 9.5 times the cost of a One-Way Ticket. The passes in the pack do not have to be used on consecutive days; rather, they can be used on any five days in a 90-day period (10-Ride Tickets are valid for 90 days.) The 5-Pack can be shared by up to five people traveling together.
- Incremental Fares: “Incremental fares” – a surcharge to travel beyond the zones indicated on the ticket – will be discontinued. Riders will be required to buy a ticket valid for the trip they are taking.
Metra proposed the changes in June 2023 and sought public input in the following months, including by launching a survey with more than 14,000 respondents. After fine-tuning the plan, it has now been incorporated into Metra's 2024 budget. Some of the survey findings were:
- The largest share of survey respondents agreed or strongly agreed (55%) with the proposal’s goals.
- Another 22% of respondents were neutral while 22% disagreed or strongly disagreed.
- The largest share of survey respondents agreed or strongly agreed (53%) with the updated fare zones included in the fare proposal.
- Another 25% of respondents were neutral while 22% disagreed or strongly disagreed.
- The largest share of survey respondents agreed or strongly agreed (40%) with updated ticket options included in the fare proposal.
- Another 24% of respondents were neutral while 36% disagreed or strongly disagreed.
In addition to these changes, the Fair Transit South Cook program, a three-year pilot sponsored by Cook County that temporarily lowered fares on the Metra Electric and Rock Island lines, will end Jan. 31, 2024. Cook County, Metra and the RTA are working on an evolution of the pilot that would provide reduced fares to low-income residents of the six-county Chicago area.
Virtual Open House
Metra held an online open house about the plan on July 25. See a video of the session below.
New Fare Zone Map
(To see a list of proposed zone assignments by line, click here)
New Fare Products and Prices effective Feb. 1, 2024
- One-Way Tickets to the downtown zone, Zone 1, will cost $3.75 from Zone 2, $5.50 from Zone 3 and $6.75 from Zone 4. The new one-way fare from all zones will be equal to or lower than the current one-way fare. To encourage non-downtown trips, all One-Way Tickets for trips that do not include downtown as a starting point or destination will cost $3.75, no matter the distance.
- The weekday Day Pass will be priced at twice the cost of a One-Way Ticket and will be valid for unlimited rides for a single day within the zones selected. The current $6 and $10 weekday Day Passes, introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic as promotional fares, will be discontinued.
- A Day Pass 5-Pack will be priced at 9.5 times the cost of a One-Way Ticket and will only be available via the Ventra app. The passes in the 5-Pack would not have to be used on consecutive days; rather, they could be used on any five days in a 90-day period. The 10-Ride Ticket, which is valid for 90 days, will be discontinued. The 5-Pack could be shared by up to five people traveling together.
- A Monthly Pass will be priced at 20 times the cost of a One-Way Ticket: $75 for Zone 2, $110 for Zone 3 and $135 for Zone 4. This pricing is below the cost of pre-COVID Monthly Passes. The current $100 flat-rate “Super Saver” Monthly Pass, introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic as a promotional fare, will be discontinued.
- Metra will no longer allow riders to pay “incremental fares” – a surcharge to travel beyond the zones indicated on their ticket. Instead, riders would be required to buy a ticket valid for the trip they are taking.
- Reduced fares of roughly 50 percent will still be available for senior citizens 65 or older, customers with disabilities and Medicare cardholders who have an RTA-issued Reduced Fare Permit. Those enrolled in the Illinois Benefit Access program with an RTA-issued Ride Free Permit will still be eligible to ride free. Reduced Fares also will still be available for K-12 students and active duty military personnel.
The proposal does not include changes to the following fare products and prices:
- The $30 Regional Connect Pass will be available to Monthly Pass buyers for unlimited rides on CTA and Pace.
- The $7 Saturday, Sunday, or Holiday Day Pass will be available, and the $10 Weekend Pass still will be available on the Ventra app only.
Fare Chart effective Feb. 1, 2024
Questions and Answers