The ongoing Illinois state budget mess is forcing Metra to pull back from a plan to buy 367 new rail cars.
When Metra made its purchase plan — in 2014 — the prospect of going a full year without a state budget was not on anybody’s radar. At the time, it seemed reasonable that the state would have a big capital program in the works by now, which might include money for Metra rail cars.
Metra’s executive director Don Orseno said that was pretty much how things had worked in the past. But Orseno doesn’t expect a capital plan this time around until the state has a balanced budget. Currently, the Illinois state government is running on a part-year budget, one which is not fully balanced.
In the meantime, Orseno said Metra is shopping for bargains on a smaller number of rail-cars from smaller lots. He hopes to get 21 cars through a deal with a railroad in Virginia.
Dan Weissmann is a reporter for WBEZ. Follow him @danweissmann.