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Pace board approves partnership with Transit, gets update on fiscal cliff strategy

A Pace Pulse express bus at the Jefferson Park Transit Center. Photo: John Greenfield

On Friday, at the February Pace board meeting, the directors approved an ordinance allowing work to integrate Pace’s On Demand service into its new Mobility as a Service (MaaS) platform, the Transit navigation app.

"I am excited that we are taking the next step in this initiative to move all of our services into one central location, making it easier for our customers to plan their travel," said Pace executive director Melinda Metzger in a statement.

The Transit app, which provides real-time public transportation data, functions in more than 175 metro areas worldwide. The app combines and maps transit data, plus crowdsourced user data in an effort to provide the most accurate info for users, according top Pace. The suburban bus system teamed up with Transit last November to upgrade the fixed-route bus data feed. That includes real-time departures showing riders when buses will arrive, cancellations, and crowding predictions based on recent ridership.

A screenshot from the Transit app showing how to (circuitously) travel from downtown Joliet to Mitsuwa Japanese shopping center in Arlington Heights via the Metra Rock Island Line, the CTA Blue Line, and Pace bus 606.
A screenshot from the Transit app showing how to (circuitously) travel from downtown Joliet to Mitsuwa Japanese shopping center in Arlington Heights via the Metra Rock Island Line, the CTA Blue Line, and Pace bus 606.
A screenshot from the Transit app showing how to (circuitously) travel from downtown Joliet to Mitsuwa Japanese shopping center in Arlington Heights via the Metra Rock Island Line, the CTA Blue Line, and Pace bus 606.

The board also heard from the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning senior director and policy advisor Laura Wilkison, who discussed the agency’s work on the Plan of Action for Regional Transit. A state mandated-steering committee has been tasked with studying the future of Chicagoland transit. Wilkison said the committee’s objectives include identifying of projects and policies to make local public transportation more reliable, safe, and pleasant to use, rebuilding ridership. The committee is also looking at ways to deal with the looming fiscal cliff for regional transit.

Pace board chair Rick Kwasneski has met regularly with agency staff to discuss the upcoming financial headwinds. "From a funding standpoint, we will continue to evaluate our system holistically," he said at the meeting. "We must ensure we are meeting the needs of our region while continuing to be a good steward of the taxpayer dollar. The innovative and cost-effective services Pace has started operating are a step in the right direction and we will build on that." he said. The steering committee report is due to the Illinois General Assembly by next New Year's Day.

Directors also honored Metzger for 45 years of working to improve regional transportation. "After 45 years, people are sometimes winding down,” said director Erin Smith. "What really impresses me about you is that you are winding up. You have an innovative way of approaching the changes in transportation, and how quickly we are adapting is really commendable.”

The Pace board meets every month in Arlington Heights, usually on the third Wednesday of the month at 9:30 a.m. The board's schedule, along with agendas, minutes, and videos, is available at the Public Meetings page at PaceBus.com, and meetings are streamed at PaceBus.com/Streaming.

Also last week, Pace announced that, in addition to new Pace/CTA unlimited-ride passes and reduced pass pricing that started today, Pace is eliminating the transfer charge for switching between its regular bus lines. However, riders transferring to Pace premium services will still have to pay a surcharge to get to the premium base fare of $4.50.

"The elimination of transfer fees improves access for all by making our services more affordable and our fares more equitable," said Metzger in a statement. "We will continue to evaluate our fares and service to meet the needs of those we serve and ensure regional connectivity."

The transfers can be used when using the Ventra payment system within two hours of the first trip taken.

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