For the first time ever, Pace is carrying more riders than Metra and lost a smaller share of riders during COVID than even the CTA. Pace Suburban Bus chairman Rick Kwansneski says this tells them that “Pace riders trips are essential” and commuters depend on them. Pace ridership is down about 50%, CTA ridership is down about 65% and Metra is down nearly 90%. When the pandemic first hit, Pace ridership went from 100,000 trips a day to 30,000. Today the bus service is doing about 50,000 daily trips and increasing. In one month, Pace riders is up 66% from last March.
Joliet is getting a new bus facility operated by PACE near the Union Station to accommodate riders. The new multi-modal facility is in partnership with the city of Joliet and will be located near Union Station just south of tracks from Union State and across the Will County Detention Center.
Meanwhile, Pace is relocating their garage from downtown Joliet to Plainfield. The I-55 Express Garage will be located along Route 30 near I-55.
Pace has reduced administrative expenses and cut service on dozens of routes to balance their budget. Emergency federal funding has kept their essential, core network running. They’ve reduced expenses by $30 million in 2020 and received $113 million of CARES funding and will received a little over $20 million of CRRSAA funding. Plus the recent stimulus bill will provide the region with $1.5 billion for RTA, CTA Metra and Pace.