Today’s Headlines

  • Metra to Offer Mobile Ticketing, Some Ventra Use, By January 1 (Sun-Times)
  • Kennedy Construction Finishes Early, Carmageddon Predictions Unfounded (Tribune)
  • 1 Out of 5 Rush-Hour Metra BNSF Trains Is Late (Tribune)
  • CTA Use by Low-Income People With Disabilities Has Skyrocketed (Tribune)
  • Teen Charged With Reckless Homicide After Striking Construction Worker  (Sun-Times)
  • Alderman Dowell Speaks Out Against Cell Phone Use While Driving (DNA)
  • Bridgeport’s Morgan Corridor Getting Streetscaping Improvements (DNA)
  • Sensors on Michigan Avenue Light Poles Will Collect Pedestrian Traffic Data (Tribune)
  • Active Trans Holds Station Assessment for Clybourn Metra Wednesday 6:30 p.m.
  • Divvy Introducing Valet Service at Downtown, Lakefront Stations (DNA)
  • Cyclist Who Crashed at Construction Site Got Bruise Resembling Chicago Flag (RedEye)

Get national headlines at Streetsblog USA

  • duppie

    Mobile ticketing at Metra sounds good. Will they also reduce the number of times a agent has to touch the screen? Currently, when you buy a ten ride, the agent will touch the screen 11 times, and scan the ticket as well.

    I do not know of a single grocery store where a cashier taps the screen 11 times to make a single item purchase.

    It’s this carelessness in process design that seem focused on job security, rather than customer service that is exemplary of what is wrong with Metra.

  • Chicago Resident

    I really hope something will be done to make the Loop–and particularly Michigan Avenue–more hospitable for pedestrians. I’m still pretty young, healthy and mobile, so it’s pretty easy for me to cross. But I was down there with a kindergartner this week and it’s really difficult to get across Michigan Avenue in the time allotted if you have any mobility issues at all. And drivers don’t seem to care that you’re in the crosswalk if they want to move through it–they just turn in front of you or pass really close behind you–all of which is pretty terrifying when you’re directing a small, easily distracted child across the street or if you happen to be unsteady on your feet.

  • Kevin M

    Very disappointing that the only way to use Ventra with Metra is via the Ventra credit card add-on. Not only does this exclude the majority of Ventra holders, but it excludes all pre-tax transit voucher funds from being used (even for those who do use the credit card add-on with their Ventra card). Metra does not meet the Jan. 1 deadline with this patch-work setup.

    Why in the hell has it taken over 10 years (and counting) for pre-tax transit funds to be able to be used for all RTA systems? The RTA is horrible–almost as much as its selfish, non-cooperating children (CTA, Metra, and Pace). Chicago once had private, competing transit systems, and one would expect that culture to have gone away once all of these systems came under a single public entity. Yet, now, instead of private transit agencies competing against one another, it is the long-standing suburb vs. urban competition that continues to do a disservice to the people.

  • Anne A

    This and overcrowding are the biggest reasons why I rarely visit North Michigan Avenue. I go to the Art Institute and Millennium Park often, but avoid most Michigan Avenue destinations because I just don’t want to deal with this anti-pedestrian mess. I wonder how many others feel likewise. I suspect I have a bit of company.

  • Even privately-run systems that “compete” have fare integration. Look at the metro systems of Tokyo.

    In fact there’s probably a stronger incentive for private operators to bring their systems up to date. If you can coordinate fares with “competing” agencies and make it easier for the public to use your service, you win. Metra makes it difficult. You have to have cash on the train, or you have to wait in line and talk to a person to pay with a credit card. And so on.

  • Derik

    Metra only measures on-time performance at the very end of each line, so their real numbers are much worse.

  • Do we SERIOUSLY need fancy Big Data sensors to confirm that the sidewalks on N Mich are too effing narrow?

  • +100

    I don’t think Metra’s on-board electronic payment “strategy” fits the legislature’s intention when they said, “Heyz youz, make a universal and regional fare system.”

  • The purpose is about providing data to people to see what can be made with the data. Charlie Catlett spoke to Open Government Hack Night last Tuesday about the Array of Things.

    I missed most of it, but his presentation was streamed live and recorded here: http://www.smartchicagocollaborative.org/the-array-of-things-at-opengov-hack-night-2/

  • Yup – they are able to hide their performance among averages.

  • I’m still waiting for the ability to buy a Metra ticket (10-ride, or one-way for a stated zone, or a weekend pass, or whatever) from a machine without having to speak to a human being who wants to know exactly what stop I’m getting off at and questions my ability to actually know what ticket I’m buying. Vending machines, plz nao, especially at places like Ogilvie and Union Station where the lines are insane.

  • I wonder how all those drivers got the idea that using downtown as a through-driving route was a good idea. In the eighties (when traffic was not so bad as now), my mother and her friend group were ALREADY of the opinion that anyone who tried to take a car downtown without dire specific personal need for that given trip to go by car were seriously deranged.

    Now everyone seems to be using downtown as a cut-through route, and then complaining that the streets are tiny and full of cars and OH MY BOB you have to WAIT for PEDESTRIANS, how UNCONSCIONABLE!

  • duppie

    Ogilvie has two ticket machines, at the end of the tracks. One around track 13, the other one around track 3(?)
    Union station has (at least) 3 vending machines, near the ticket counters.

  • Yeah, but they don’t sell everything. It’s been well over a year since I tried to ride Metra for any reason, but the last time I did, I looked at the line and went to the (at that time, one) machine, and it sold like two things, neither of which were useful to me.

    I will be very pleased if this has changed, but it seems like Metra really, really wants (institutionally) for any transaction where you give them money to involve a face-to-face employee interaction for some reason.

  • trufe

    to be fair, it sounds like you will be able to use the “transit” functionality of Ventra for mobile purchases, just not in person from station agents/conductors (unless I am reading that wrong)

    annoying until they get that fixed for sure – but at least Metra is going with a mobile ticketing option – to me that is the biggest screwup by CTA & Pace out of the whole Ventra/combined fare system mess

  • rohmen

    Are people really using streets like Michigan as a through-driving route all that often?

    I don’t personally know a single person living in Chicago who would ever consider Michigan Ave (or any loop street) as a viable route option during a week day; including those i know who live in the South Loop.

  • BlueFairlane

    The only thing I ever see on Michigan are cabs, buses, delivery vehicles, and lost tourists. I strongly doubt there’s anybody using Michigan as a route to get from one part of the city to another.

  • No, but I have acquaintances (I find out about their routing after we’re both at the same event) who think it’s normal to want to take, say, Washington into the Loop as a way to get on LSD, or to take one of the Randolph-to-Jackson streets east to State, and State north to North Avenue, instead of doing something that seems far more sensible to ME like cutting north on Ashland instead of, y’know, going THROUGH THE LOOP to get to somewhere not far from Clark/Division.

  • Must be nice to conduct research in a field where you can say “We don’t know what we’re going to find, but please give us money anyway.” *grumble*