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Metra approves fare hike

Commuters will soon have to pay more to ride the Metra. The rail agency's board of directors approved fare increases across the board Friday.

Metra hasn't raised its rates since 2008. In previous budgets, the agency would dip into its capital fund to help close budget deficits instead of saving the money for system repairs. Metra spokesman Michael Gillis said that practice is coming to an end.

"The issue is that we have a huge need to invest in our infrastructure right now. And every dollar we divert from that need just makes the problem worse. And we sort of drew the line this year and said, 'no, we're not going to do that anymore,'" he said.

Gillis said the fare hikes help close a $53 million budget gap and it avoids making service cuts.

One-way tickets will go up more than 15.7 percent across all fare zones, while 10-ride tickets and monthly passes jump about 30 percent. It's the largest single fare increase in the Chicago-area commuter rail agency's history.

The agency is also making policy changes to prevent riders from stockpiling fare cards before rates go up in February. Gillis said when the agency has had fare hikes in the past, Metra lost money on riders who stockpiled the lower priced tickets.

Among new fare policies:

—One-way tickets will be valid for 14 days instead of a year.

—The 10-ride ticket discount will be 10 rides for the price of nine, instead of eight.

—Young adult fares on weekends and holidays are being eliminated.

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