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Due to the dramatic decrease in ridership amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, Metra announced it will reduce service on multiple lines, including two that run through Will County.
Metra will reduce the schedule on its three least-busy lines, the Heritage Corridor, SouthWest Service and North Central Service, starting Monday, according to a news release.
On the Heritage Corridor line, the schedule will temporarily be reduced to one inbound trip in the morning and one outbound trip in the evening. On the SouthWest Service line, there will temporarily be two inbound trips in the morning and two outbound trips in the evening.
“We hope our customers understand why we are making these schedule reductions,” Metra CEO and Executive Director Jim Derwinski said in the release. “We are trying to find the balance between providing service for essential workers while stemming the huge losses we are seeing in fare revenue and sales taxes, our two major sources of operating funding. We are being forced to make some tough decisions.”
During its April board meeting, Metra outlined a preliminary estimate that it will lose about $535.5 million in fares and sales tax in 2020 and 2021 because of the crisis. The agency said there were “many assumptions” built into the estimate that are “almost certain to change.”
Metra projected a 53% shortfall in its revenue projection for 2020, as it has seen ridership plummet. In a report, the agency said the pandemic could have an impact even beyond this year, and it may “significantly speed up a trend toward resident relocation and increased telecommuting.”
Metra said it is expecting about $480 million in federal relief. The schedule reductions announced this week are expected to save about $470,000 a month in labor and fuel costs.
The decrease in ridership also has caused parking revenues at Metra stops to plummet for Will County municipalities during the pandemic.
More information and all alternate schedules can be found on metrarail.com.