As Pace Celebrates 40th Anniversary, Ridership Surges To Highest Levels Since The Pandemic

Shown, left to right, are Pace Executive Director Melinda Metzger, Illinois State Representative Rita Mayfield, and Pace Chairman Rick Kwasneski. Mayfield is holding a copy of House Resolution 1816, which was passed by the Illinois General Assembly on May 22, 2024, to honor Pace’s 40 Year anniversary. (Photo courtesy of Pace)

At a recent Pace (Arlington Heights, IL) Board of Directors meeting, the agency commemorated four decades of dedicated service and approved a Regional Day Pass Pilot program, reflecting Pace’s ongoing commitment to enhancing passenger convenience and adapting to evolving transit needs.

“The Regional Day Pass, anticipated to launch later this year, will provide unlimited rides on Pace, Metra, and the CTA for a single day at a fixed rate,” according to a press release. “This pilot program aims to make public transportation more accessible and affordable, encouraging increased ridership across the region. The fare revenue difference will be funded by the Regional Transportation Authority.”

“We are thrilled to celebrate 40 years of service and introduce the Regional Day Pass Pilot as part of our ongoing efforts to enhance the rider experience,” Pace Board Chairman Rick Kwasneski said. “This initiative reflects our commitment to innovation and our vision for the future of public transit in our region.”

During her report, Pace Executive Director Melinda Metzger welcomed Illinois State Representative Rita Mayfield, who presented Pace with a resolution honoring the agency’s 40-year history.

“I would like to thank the regional leaders who continue to support Pace on all levels. One of those leaders is here with us today,” Metzger said. “It is fitting that a former Pace employee can join us today as we mark this milestone. I am honored to welcome State Representative Rita Mayfield, who gave 15 years of service to Pace and continues to serve the public as representative for the 60th District and as Chair of the Appropriations-Public Safety Committee.”

Mayfield also spoke: “I just want to say thank you and congratulations. I am honored to be here as a former employee. You (Pace) took a chance on me when I was young. This was my first real job out of (high) school.”

She shared that Pace’s tuition reimbursement program for employees paid for her higher education.

“I am because of you, and all the investment you put into me. Thank you for that opportunity,” Mayfield said.

Over the past three years, Pace has made significant strides in recovering ridership post-pandemic.

“In May 2024, monthly ridership was the highest since the pandemic began, with over 2 million trips on the system,” the release added. “May 2024 average weekday ridership came in at 17.9 percent over May 2023, with over 81,000 riders each weekday. ADA Paratransit ridership has surpassed 2019 levels, carrying just over 18,000 riders each weekday.”

“Along with the recent 30 percent surge in weekend ridership, the impressive May numbers show that our nimble and innovative nature is driving ridership trends in a positive direction,” Metzger said. “The approval of the Regional Day Pass Pilot is a testament to Pace’s forward-thinking approach to public transit. By offering flexible and cost-effective fare options, we will continue to attract new riders and provide greater value to existing passengers.”

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