No fee hikes, new routes in Evanston for Pace buses in 2012

Kimberly Railey

Pace transit riders will not experience any fare hikes or service cuts in 2012, according to a preliminary budget unveiled in a news release Wednesday.

“Some routes will be expanded, but these services will not reach Evanston,” said Pace spokesman Patrick Wilmot on Monday. “We don’t have anything right now planned for Evanston, but we always look at service levels. We look for opportunities to try to improve services throughout the year.”

The operating budget of Pace’s suburban service is estimated at $194.5 million, a 4.8 percent increase attributed mainly to forthcoming service enhancements, according to the news release.

While CTA and Metra officials have hinted fare increases are likely on their buses and trains, increases in Pace’s ridership and regional sales tax revenue last year have led to the agency’s positive outlook.

“We’ve worked hard to remain efficient and have made some difficult decisions with respect to reducing service in 2010, and that commitment to live within our means brings us to a favorable situation for 2012,” said Richard Kwasneski, chairman of the Pace board, in the news release.

Included in the 2012 budget are fixed routes, Dial-A-Ride and Vanpool services.

The agency expects to offer two new Call-n-Ride routes in the western suburbs and to increase the bus-only shoulder service on the Stevenson Expressway. It also plans to purchase up to 162 new buses in 2012, according to the news release.

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