Naperville Metra users could soon face major changes in their commute. Due to increased diesel fuel costs, Metra officials say they are facing a potential $100 million budget gap and are exploring different options to fill the hole.
The plan they are looking the closest at is to cut 31 weekday and 18 weekend trains. That would save more than $8 million a year.
“We have a number of express trains that are at or close to being at capacity on a daily basis,” said Karyn Robles, Transportation and Planning Team Leader for the City of Naperville. “We really need these trains to get people to and from the city.”
Four of the potential cuts are to the Burlington Northern Santa Fe line, which runs through both Naperville train stations. They are looking at the 4:08 p.m. train to Chicago, the 5:36 p.m. train from Chicago, the 10:20 p.m. to Chicago and the 11:40 p.m. train from Chicago.
“This is kind of the peak time around four, which is right before the rush hour people come,” said Daria Shelton, Chicago resident. “This is like my window of opportunity to get out here and not have it be a huge hassle.”
“If they were to cut a few stops out that would be horrible for me because I have to work everyday at the same time,” said Philip Ruge, Naperville resident. “So I’d have to find an alternate way to get to work.”
But the cuts are only part of the savings that Metra officials are looking at, they also discussed fare increases up to 20%. Officials have not discussed specific fare raises.
“My son lives here. I’m out in Naperville all the time,” said Michael Shane. “The $7 pass is pretty cool, but that’s already kind of steep.”
“It’s something you don’t want to do at first, but you just got to go with it and do what you got to do,” said Darren Wiggins, Naperville resident.
“One of the reasons that Metra is a viable option is that it is less expensive than driving and parking downtown,” said Robles. “We certainly need to keep it affordable so people can choose to use the train instead of driving and adding to congestion.”
Metra board members are set to further discuss their options at future board meetings and make a decision in the next few months. Once decided, the changes could take place as soon as next year.
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