The Cook County Board of Commissioners approved $35 million for a three-year pilot program designed to enhance access to transit in south Cook and northern Will Counties. The County is partnering with Metra and Pace to launch Fair Transit South Cook to help make transit more affordable and convenient for residents in the Southland.
As part of this Fair Transit pilot, Metra will reduce fares by up to 50 percent on the Metra Electric and Rock Island lines. Pace is expanding and extending hours of service on their 352 Halsted route. Cook County will offset costs incurred by Metra and Pace associated with the pilot implementation. The pilot is scheduled to launch in early 2021.
“Now more than ever, we must ensure that all residents have equitable access to transit,” said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. “Not everyone has had the luxury of working from home during the pandemic. Metra’s fare reduction and the enhanced service on Pace will help essential workers in our Southland with more convenient and affordable transportation options.”
The inception of this program began when the Cook County Department of Transportation commissioned the South Cook County Mobility Study in 2018. A coalition of transportation, planning, and economic development organizations led direct engagement with transit riders in the Southland and found that:
“portions of the south side and South Suburbs are heavily dependent on mass transit, but often lack access to high quality, affordable, frequent transit service. Commute times for residents in the area are also longer than other parts of the region. These challenges have contributed to lower transit ridership and reduced access to opportunity. Testing new and improved mass transit services on the south side and South Suburbs is a good way to find long-term solutions to transportation problems that have persisted in the region for too long.”
Commissioner Scott Britton serves on the Transportation Committee and is committed to ensuring that all residents of Cook County have access to affordable, sustainable, and equitable transportation options.
Watch the full press conference here.