Pace CTA Regional Connect pass streamlines local public transit


Daily file photo by Allie Goulding

A Pace bus passes under a bridge while a CTA “L” train crosses above.

William Tong, Reporter

Pace has seen an increase in ridership in recent months following the June approval of a reduced rate Regional Connect pass, a $30 per month addition to the $100 Metra Monthly pass that allows unlimited rides on any Pace or Chicago Transit Authority vehicle.

The Regional Connect Pass replaces two former add-ons to the Metra Monthly pass. The $55 Link-up pass provided CTA rides during weekday rush hour and unlimited Pace rides while the $30 PlusBus pass provided unlimited Pace rides.

Erik Llewellyn, Pace’s chief planning officer, said Pace switched to the new pass to restore ridership levels, which dropped significantly during the pandemic. 

“To encourage riders to return to public transit, staff is looking to provide riders with improved fair payment options and flexibility,” he said at a June 15 Pace Board of Directors meeting. 

This isn’t the only change CTA and Pace implemented to increase ridership. The CTA has piloted three fare reductions this year, lowering the cost of the 7-day CTA-Pace pass from $33 to $25, the 30-day CTA-Pace pass from $105 to $75 and the 30-day CTA-Pace reduced fare pass from $50 to $35.

Pace solicited resident opinions about the proposed rate reductions, holding six public hearings between May 19 and May 26.  At the June meeting, the universal pass and Pace fare reductions were unanimously approved.

“It’s exactly what we’ve all been working for over these years,” Pace Board Chairman Rick Kwasneski said. “It puts some uniformity together so that somebody could buy one pass and utilize it on all three services.” 

Maggie Daly Skogsbakken, a spokesperson at Pace, wrote in an email that CTA and Pace sold about 380 Linkup and Plusbus passes in June.

In September, Daly Skogsbakken wrote, add-on pass sales increased; CTA and Pace sold 1,076 Regional Connect passes, used for 4,442 Pace rides. 

These increases reflect a ridership increase across the board, Pace Executive Director Melinda Metzger said. She added increasing ridership was part of the company’s overall goal.

“Ridership is up a bit from prior to July, where we implemented it,” she said. “Metra has a very competitive fare right now, and we just added another competitive component to it.” 

As part of its 2023 budget, Pace is proposing additional new 1-day and 3-day passes, it announced in a Sept. 29 news release. Community members can weigh in on the details at public hearings between Oct. 20-28. 

Email: [email protected] 

Twitter: @william2tong

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