Today’s Headlines for Wednesday, December 20

  • In the Wake of Washington Crash, Tribune Looks at Efforts to Install PTC on Local Railroads
  • Metra Considers Fare System That Could Raise Prices for Those Living Closer to Downtown (Tribune)
  • Hit-and-Run Driver Fatally Struck Henry Sinisterra, 18, Near Des Plaines Metra Station (Tribune)
  • Tribune: 10 Years After Traffic Cams Came to Suburbs, State Hasn’t Assessed Their Effectiveness
  • City Manager: Lake Forest Paid $192K to Lobby for Amtrak Stop Without Council Approval (Tribune)
  • For the First Time in Years, Chicago Doesn’t Make People for Bikes’ List of 10 Best U.S. Bikeways
  • Divvy System Was Down for Wednesday’s AM Commute Due to Computer Glitch (Sun-Times)
  • Chicago Magazine Looks at Why Developing the South Work Site Will Be a Challenge
  • LaTrace, Rao, Rogers, Karp Discuss the Best New Buildings, Including Wash/Wab ‘L’ Stop (Chicago)

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  • planetshwoop

    The article about zones on Metra fails to mention the two extremely critical points.

    First, the “zones” aren’t geographic distance from the station, but the miles traveled by the railroad. This leads to all kinds of distortions, like the fact that Forest Glen and Jefferson Park are very close to each other, but in different zones.

    Second, zones A-C already pay substantially more, so “redoing it” for zone A feels like a naked ploy to get city dwellers off of trains.

    To be more explicit, after the “base” fare of $3.75, the changes by zone are below. I don’t have the time to check why J/L are skipped — if it means that the jump from one zone to the next is actually more than 5 miles, or if they were being weird when they created this. My hunch is that the distance is quite long — if Harvard is 61 miles like the article says, that’s 12 zones — and thus M.
    B + $0.25
    C + $1.25
    D + $0.75
    E + $0.50
    F + $0.50
    G + $0.50
    H + $0.50
    I + $1.00
    J ( )
    K + $1.00
    L ( )
    M $1.00

    My point of posting all of this is that Metra’s fares already are quite uneven even compared to their “zone” policy and that they have clearly chosen to penalize zones C & D.

  • Cameron Puetz

    Also since the zones are based on track distance from a downtown station, the fare structure penalizes people commuting to destinations near zone boundaries instead of downtown. For example someone using the UP-N to commute from Rogers Park to Northwestern’s Evanston Campus would pay the same fare as someone using the UP-N to commute from Rogers Park to downtown. Even though Rogers Park to Evanston Davis is only a 2.6 mile train trip while Rogers Park to Ogilvie is a 9.4 mi trip.

  • rwy

    I don’t understand the purpose of zone based fares. On the inbound journey a person is likely taking up a seat that has been empty since the beginning of the trip, while on the outbound trip it is likely to remain empty for the remainder of the trip. Doesn’t it cost a similar amount to transport a person to a far out station and a nearby station? Not to mention the fact that the person who lives closer to the city likely has more money.

  • Jared Kachelmeyer

    If you drop the zone based fares then people farther in will have to pay more and people farther out will see a decrease. Metra is already more than CTA in the city, I don’t really think it should go any higher.

  • I think there just aren’t any stations in zones J or L.

  • Jeremy

    Unless lowering the fare encourages more people to ride.

  • Jared Kachelmeyer

    It might, although I think they typical rider is already saving a pretty substantial amount of money and time.

  • NS, the Dutch national railway, sets all fares to a base price plus a per-kilometer traveled price, going off of the distance for the shortest possible route between two stations (because of the interconnectedness of the rail network there, there can be more than one way to get some place, which is useful when doing track work).

    Metra could switch to this, but it would wreak all kinds of havoc on their monthly pass system. Well, it would mean they would need to upgrade their systems for pricing the fares at checkout (whether in the app, online, or at a ticket booth) and selling them.

  • “Second, zones A-C already pay substantially more, so “redoing it” for zone A feels like a naked ploy to get city dwellers off of trains.”

    Yep. Metra is trying to reduce overcrowding by reducing ridership within Chicago, where it has 30% of its stations.

  • But Metra is kind of a premium service compared to the L.

  • Jeff Carlson

    I ride Metra once a month when I’m compelled to go the suburbs for a meeting in Elmhurst. It’s astonishing how often my ticket is never punched by a conductor. The current system seems incredibly inefficient.

  • Cameron Puetz

    It still costs more per passenger to provide service to the far out stations because the infrastructure to get there is maintained for a smaller number of passengers, and the per mile cost of running the running the train is divided between fewer passengers.

  • Carter O’Brien

    I’ll just say I worry that CTA will start looking into this idea. Moreno already raised the topic (“Why should my residents have to pay as much as those taking the L a longer distance to get to the Loop?”), and while it perhaps makes sense with a strict bean counter analysis, the problem in Chicago is many of the people who live along the outer edges of the City do so out of economic necessity, and a zone based fare would hit them very hard.

  • planetshwoop

    It really does feel like the separation of Metra/CTA/PACE into different agencies really does hinder progress for customers. While there are certainly challenges with the MTA, it’s model of centralization seems better for coordination than the balkanization we have here.

  • Dennis McClendon

    Remember that city dwellers pay nothing (except their fares) toward supporting Metra. Sales taxes collected in the city go entirely to CTA. Only suburban sales taxes go to support Metra.

  • Merging was the recommendation of Quinn’s transit governance panel back in 2013 (?).