Metra (reporting mark METX) is the commuter rail division of the Regional Transportation Authority of the Chicago metropolitan area. Metropolitan Rail Corporation or Metra operates 241 stations on 11 different rail lines. Throughout the 21st century, it has been at least the fourth busiest commuter rail system in the United States by ridership. Experiencing a 1.7% decline in ridership from the previous year, Metra trains offered 81.3 million passenger rides in 2012.
Utilizing Chicago's rich rail infrastructure founded in the 19th century, the Illinois General Assembly established the RTA, and later Metra, to serve commuters by railroad. Metra's creation was a result of the anticipated failure of commuter service operated and owned by various private railroad companies in the 1970s. Freight rail companies still operate some routes; however, these operations are guided by contracted service agreements. Metra owns all rolling stock and is responsible for all stations along with the respective municipalities. Since its inception, Metra has directed more than $5 billion into the commuter rail system of the Chicago metropolitan area.