Today’s Headlines for Wednesday, November 15

  • RTA Chief: CTA Should Raise Fares to Address Budget Gap, or Risk Major Service Cuts (Tribune)
  • Cahill: Metra Fare Hikes, Service Cuts, Budget Hole Could Lead to a Death Spiral (Crain’s)
  • Rebate Program Helped Divert 18% of Red Line Traffic Before Cubs Night Games (Sun-Times)
  • Law Against Collecting Signatures for Candidates on Transit Platforms Is Rarely Enforced (Tribune)
  • Semi Driver Crashes Into Auto Body Repair Shop in Cicero (Sun-Times)
  • Hyde Park Residents Meet to Brainstorm Ways to Improve Transportation Access (Active Trans)
  • New Commuter Bus Service Takes Racine Residents to Kenosha Metra Station (NBC)
  • Rochelle Rail-Car Plant Loses $352M Amtrak Contract to California (Tribune)
  • Chicago Riverwalk Is 1 of 13 Projects to Win ULI’s Global Award for Excellence (Curbed)
  • Video: WGN Talks to Cyclists and Drivers About How to Reduce Conflicts
  • A Pedal Pub May Be Coming to Naperville, but You Won’t Be Able to Drink on It (Tribune)
  • Ghost Bike Installation for Lisa Schalk This Sunday 11/19, 3 PM at 5750 S, Archer

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  • Louis S

    Rebate Program Helped Divert 18% of Red Line Traffic Before Cubs Night Games (Sun-Times)

    This is linked to the same article as Law Against Collecting Signatures for Candidates on Transit Platforms Is Rarely Enforced

  • planetshwoop

    There are easy ways to trim costs from Metra but they are surely politically unpopular. Do we need ticket agents at the level we have today? That’s $4-5M. Why are there separate Metra police?

    I don’t want Metra to get into a race for the lowest cost provider via outsourcing. But raising fares and cutting service requires looking a bit harder at if they have the right level of staff.

  • rwy

    Sure switching to random spot checks for tickets is a good idea. But it won’t completely close the hole. Springfield needs to give Metra more funding.

  • Carter O’Brien

    It seems to me that more frequent but less extreme fare increases, preferably tied to inflation, would be easier for both providers and users to plan around.

  • Jeremy

    And for Ventra users, there is no reason the increase can’t be an “odd” amount like $0.19.

  • planetshwoop

    No, I wasn’t thinking of that. Most metra stations have a Metra employee who sells you a ticket, answers questions, etc. Frankly, btwn Ventra and ticket machines, most of these positions can and should go. (I mean, the city has none of them, so why do the burbs need them?)

    No, it absolutely won’t close the hole. But Metra has always been extraordinarily slow to change. This is low-hanging fruit to help show they’re thinking about changes too.

  • Dennis McClendon

    Metra stations are typically staffed only one shift per day, when there are the most boardings. Think of them as overseers of the heated waiting room—a passenger amenity that builds ridership—rather than ticket sellers.

  • planetshwoop

    They are paid about $33/hr for an 8 hour shift to do this. The busy period for most stations is maybe 3 hours long.

    I support living wages, but Metra has not even tried to help itself here.

  • Cameron Puetz

    Cutting Metra Police seems like really low hanging fruit. Most stations are in suburban downtowns near police stations. I can’t think of a situation where Metra Police would respond faster than the local village or city police. In addition to municipal police departments, so much of their jurisdiction overlaps with Amtrak and various freight railroad police.

  • Cameron Puetz

    The question is why do suburban stations need an agent to oversee warming shelters when city stations don’t. Ravenswood has an unstaffed warming shelter, is it really less prone to vandalism and other crime than Winnetka?

  • Anne A

    Many stations no longer have ticket agents. In Beverly and Morgan Park alone, they have been eliminated from most stations in the last 5 years. When they were staffed, it was typically from the first morning train through early afternoon (around 1:00 p.m.).

  • rohmen

    Aren’t the Metra police meant to cut through the jurisdictional issues a bit, though?

    It’s hard to guarantee every town Metra travels through would handle law enforcement/investigation issues uniformly, or allocate the appropriate resources. Not to mention the jurisdictional squabbles that would arise when local departments don’t want to handle something crime-wise that may have started in their jurisdiction, but continued or finished in another.

  • Carter O’Brien

    You could make a similar argument for quite a few L stations in the bigger picture. I think we should always have at least one staff member at a station, but it is not unreasonable IMO to expect them to take some pride in their workplace above and be proactive above and beyond opening the entrance gate for people with luggage every 10 minutes during rush hour. Clean off graffiti immediately. Actively discourage private vehicles from squatting in the bus stop. Pick up the trash littering the platform. Perform CUSTOMER SERVICE. I actually had an employee at the Chicago stop curse at me because I apparently had the audacity to hit the buzzer so I could get the child’s fare code activated – another huge pet peeve.

  • Vooch

    the worlds worst suburban commuter rail station – trigger warning