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Metra ridership decline continues

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Ridership on Metra’s Union Pacific North line that runs through Evanston declined 3.8 percent last year, more than the system-wide decline of 3.2 percent.

The figures, discussed at Metra’s board meeting Wednesday, show an accelleration of a decline in ridership on the UP-North line that has totalled 6.8 percent over the past five years. System-wide, the five year decline has been 8.7 percent.

Just under 8.7 million passenger trips were recorded on the UP-North line last year. That’s about 11 percent of the traffic on the 11 commmuter rail lines the agency operates in the Chicago region.

Metra officials see falling gas prices and four fare incrases over the past five years as factors in the ridership decline.

The board voted Wednesday to spend $71 million to buy 15 remanufactured locomotives to replace some of the oldest of the 147 locomotives in its fleet in an effort to improve system reliability and reduce pollution emissions.

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