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December 13, 2000

Governor Ryan Awards Illinois FIRST Grant for New Metra Cars

CHICAGO -- Governor George H. Ryan today officially announced another Illinois FIRST investment in the region's mass transit system with a $398.6 million commitment to Metra to purchase 300 new passenger coaches over the next five years.

"Today we are announcing a commitment of funding so that Metra can invest in capital, but we are doing much more than that," said Governor Ryan. "We are investing in the quality of life for our region and we are encouraging good, smart regional planning by investing in a key component of the region's mass transit system."

The Metra board, led by Chairman Jeff Ladd, met earlier this morning to approve the largest procurement of commuter rail cars in Illinois history.

"We can now invest nearly $400 million in badly needed new railcars thanks to Governor Ryan," said Chairman Ladd. "Illinois FIRST will cover the entire cost of our new cars. No federal funding is involved at all."

The 250 new rail cars will be stainless steel and will replace 208 carbon-steel, painted cars that have been in service for 30 to 40 years and have been rebuilt at least once. The majority of the new cars (184) will be used to replace 40 year old cars on Union Pacific's North, Northwest, and West lines, which run out of Ogilvie Transportation Center. The remainder of the cars will be used for expanded service throughout the region.

The new cars will be bi-level, and wheelchair accessible pursuant to the requirements of the ADA. They will carry about 150 passengers each.

The purchase order approved by Metra's Board will include 108 cab control cars and 142 trailer cars, with the option to purchase an additional 50 more trailer cars. Cars will have improved seating, larger windows, and a newly designed passenger information system with automatic station announcements, LED signs for visual information, and a notification system for mobility-limited passenger. All will be accessible to passengers with disabilities through wheelchair lifts, wheelchair space inside, and bathrooms accommodating wheelchairs.

"This is just one instance when out Illinois FIRST program enhances and complements our program to promote balanced growth - our Illinois Tomorrow plan. We have directed three-quarters of the Illinois FIRST funds towards projects that directly reduce traffic congestion on Illinois roads and highways and that restore and expand mass transit," said Governor Ryan.

Metra is the rail commuter division of the RTA serving 300,000 passenger trips each weekday (Monday - Friday) in Cook, DuPage, Lake, Will, McHenry, and Kane counties over 495 miles of track. Metra anticipates a record of 8.5 million passenger trips this year.


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