Metra Considering Doing Away With Cash Fares On Trains

Bernie Tafoya
January 13, 2020 - 11:39 am

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Metra is considering doing away with accepting cash on trains to pay for fares, but any change would be at least couple of years away. 

During the last Metra board meeting, CEO Jim Derwinski suggested looking into the possibility of doing away with cash-fares on trains.

Spokesman Michael Gillis said Metra is just now starting to look into how that could happen.

He said cash fares on trains are not a large portion of fares, but are significant enough to slow a conductor down, as they try to collect fares the entire length of a train from the first car to the last. 

"It’s a slow process and it occupies the conductors time," he said.

Gillis said that in October, the last month data is available, 17.5 percent of one-way fares were cash fares bought on the trains. 

Eliminating cash fares on trains would reduce the chances of a conductor being robbed, according to Gillis, although he said that's not much of an issue.

Gillis said that no matter what, Metra could not do away with accepting cash altogether.

"And whether we do that through vending machines at the stations or retail outlets or whether we do it at all, we don’t know," he said.

Most people pay their Metra fares with monthly passes, 10-ride tickets, or the popular Ventra app on their smartphones. Gillis said that some months, close to 50 percent of commuters use the Ventra app on their smartphones to pay.