Politicians and MetroLink officials celebrated the 20th anniversary of the light rail system Friday at its Grand station stop.
The light-rail system opened in 1993 with an investment of a little more than $460 million, with about 75 percent of that coming from the Federal Transit Authority.
Former Illinois Congressman Jerry Costello was instrumental in garnering the funds for creating the MetroLink. He said 20 years ago, nobody at the federal level thought it would be successful.
“I’m proud to tell you this MetroLink system outpaced the projections of the federal bean counters," Costello said. "Over a 10 year period, we exceeded that number in two years.”
MetroLink trains recorded 8 million riders in its first year of service. Now, Metro President John Nations says that number is 17 million.
“Think about that. Every day, every week, we’re transporting people across the region to get to their jobs, their employment," Nations said. "75 percent of those who ride the system ride it to get to their work to support their family and themselves, another 20 percent ride it to get an education to improve their futures.”
Nations called the system a success by any measure, and said expansion is in the future. As far as where that would be, he couldn’t say.
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