MRChiCity

Changes are coming

62 posts in this topic

So word has come around that Metra is closing it's ticket office in Bensenville and will be moving the Agent up to Glenview. http://www.mysuburbanlife.com/2016/04/05/bensenville-metra-station-ticket-office-to-close-april-15/a43kggh/ My question is why did Amtrak make the bone headed move to pull its agent out of Glenview and replace it with a Metra agent? Especially when you consider that the Metra Agent will not sell Amtrak Tickets where as the Amtrak Agent sold Metra Tickets. 

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5 hours ago, MRChiCity said:

So word has come around that Metra is closing it's ticket office in Bensenville and will be moving the Agent up to Glenview. http://www.mysuburbanlife.com/2016/04/05/bensenville-metra-station-ticket-office-to-close-april-15/a43kggh/ My question is why did Amtrak make the bone headed move to pull its agent out of Glenview and replace it with a Metra agent? Especially when you consider that the Metra Agent will not sell Amtrak Tickets where as the Amtrak Agent sold Metra Tickets. 

There probably isn't enough Amtrak business at Glenview to justify an agent. What is surprising is that Metra relied on an Amtrak agent.

Between e-tickets, buying on the web, and the conductor selling tickets, that probably was sufficient for Amtrak.

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On ‎5‎/‎2‎/‎2016 at 4:14 PM, MRChiCity said:

More changes are coming  http://patch.com/illinois/oakpark/metra-cook-county-partner-improve-metra-police-operations how will the affect the 877-fix-gate number?

Won't make a difference. The fix gate is into the dispatch center of a railroad, not the police department. The dispatchers will notify maintainers who will investigate the problem. Article shows just how much they are trying to farm out the work instead of having a control on it themselves. Of course, they are paying for it (including sharing fine revenue with county), and then they will say they are improving their police department !

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3 minutes ago, trainman8119 said:

Of course, they are paying for it (including sharing fine revenue with county), and then they will say they are improving their police department !

Depends if they mean it that it gets more police officers out of the dispatch center and into the field. Of course that depends on why Metra thinks it needs its own police department.

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On 4/12/2016 at 3:40 AM, MRChiCity said:

So word has come around that Metra is closing it's ticket office in Bensenville and will be moving the Agent up to Glenview. http://www.mysuburbanlife.com/2016/04/05/bensenville-metra-station-ticket-office-to-close-april-15/a43kggh/ My question is why did Amtrak make the bone headed move to pull its agent out of Glenview and replace it with a Metra agent? Especially when you consider that the Metra Agent will not sell Amtrak Tickets where as the Amtrak Agent sold Metra Tickets. 

Sun-Times article that not only is Metra removing the ticket agent at Riverside, it has done so at a number of stations.

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On ‎6‎/‎8‎/‎2016 at 9:27 AM, Busjack said:

Sun-Times article that not only is Metra removing the ticket agent at Riverside, it has done so at a number of stations.

Also, they are removing the cash ticket machines at outlying stations on the Electric. Ticket sales on trains is out of control right now, especially on the South Chicago Branch, where most people used to actually buy tickets before getting on the train. Not anymore...sheer brilliance.

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4 hours ago, trainman8119 said:

Also, they are removing the cash ticket machines at outlying stations on the Electric. Ticket sales on trains is out of control right now, especially on the South Chicago Branch, where most people used to actually buy tickets before getting on the train. Not anymore...sheer brilliance.

But then does that mean they don't get the $5 surcharge? They used to say that it didn't apply if there wasn't a machine or agent on duty, but the only line I know of that had machines was the ME.

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On ‎6‎/‎12‎/‎2016 at 6:07 PM, Busjack said:

But then does that mean they don't get the $5 surcharge? They used to say that it didn't apply if there wasn't a machine or agent on duty, but the only line I know of that had machines was the ME.

That would be correct...no surcharge

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On July 27, 2016 at 2:05 PM, Pace831 said:

Press release that Metra has hired a consultant to evaluate fare structure and policy.

You wanna know why, because they knew they've f'ed up big time!

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1 hour ago, garmon757 said:

You wanna know why, because they knew they've f'ed up big time!

There was the Auditor General's report about 9 years ago that those beyond Zone E were getting too good of a deal. But I assume that has been about as deep sixed as a steam engine on the Milwaukee Road or Pennsylvania RR commuter service to Valparaiso.

On the other hand, I'm not sure what Oberman keeps pushing as a flat fare. Metra is not going to make it on the equivalent of what is a Zone A-B fare to ride anywhere on the system.

In what sense do you say it is ----ed up?

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14 hours ago, Busjack said:

There was the Auditor General's report about 9 years ago that those beyond Zone E were getting too good of a deal. But I assume that has been about as deep sixed as a steam engine on the Milwaukee Road or Pennsylvania RR commuter service to Valparaiso.

On the other hand, I'm not sure what Oberman keeps pushing as a flat fare. Metra is not going to make it on the equivalent of what is a Zone A-B fare to ride anywhere on the system.

In what sense do you say it is ----ed up?

Wait a minute, so you're trying to say that it's a good thing that Metra is initiating this evaluation? Let me guess that if Zone E-M was too good of a deal then we're going to expect more fare increases that's going to make commuters ride less and drive more or change fares to compete with other suburban rail companies??? 

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20 minutes ago, garmon757 said:

Wait a minute, so you're trying to say that it's a good thing that Metra is initiating this evaluation? Let me guess that if Zone E-M was too good of a deal then we're going to expect more fare increases that's going to make commuters ride less and drive more or change fares to compete with other suburban rail companies??? 

First I said "beyond Zone E," so the increases would be Zones F-M.

The rest of the question gets down to what Metra's main purpose is--to recover its recovery ratio so it can make local contributions to capital, or further advance some congestion mitigation role? It is expensive enough to drive from suburbs beyond Zone E (i.e. basically outside Cook and DuPage counties--Lisle on the BNSF, Wheaton on the UPN), with the tolls, parking, red light cameras, and the like. Also it takes more capital resources to serve far flung areas in the collar counties.

"change fares to compete with other suburban rail companies?" Like which ones? Metra runs all the commuter rail service in the Illinois area, and controls the South Shore fare to Hegewisch. If you are implying the Purple Line, Metra essentially doesn't care; the UPN trains are overloaded already, including passengers getting on in Ravenswood.

 

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I can tell them how to fix it without spending the unnecessary money on consultants (which are probably related to someone on the board)

Do away with weekend tickets

Make people coming to events such as Lollapalooza pay one way fares instead of giving away the farm. These people are the ones

who will pay the fare no matter how much....(8 x $7.50 vs 1 @ $20).

But no...they'll find a way to screw the monthly ticket holders again !!!

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7 minutes ago, trainman8119 said:

Do away with weekend tickets

What is the purpose of weekend passes?

  • A. Introduce new riders to Metra by emphasizing the special low weekend fare.
  • B. Promote taking the train instead of driving, especially for downtown events.
  • C. Encourage trips to be taken on weekends instead of weekday rush hours, thereby reducing crowding on rush hour trains.
  • D. Increase ridership in an attempt to justify weekend service.
  • E. Weekend passes have historically been offered, so the idea of eliminating them has not been discussed much.
17 minutes ago, trainman8119 said:

Make people coming to events such as Lollapalooza pay one way fares instead of giving away the farm.

Again, what is the purpose of these tickets?

  • A. Lollapalooza is subsidizing them.
  • B. Everyone will be coming home drunk, so keep them away from their cars.
  • C. Someone disagrees with your statement that people would be willing to pay more.

I personally ride on weekends (and with the special Lolla pass) only because it is cheaper. If they hadn't offered the $20 pass I wouldn't have rode at all this weekend. However, I agree that Metra would probably bring in more revenue by eliminating these "deals". The best solution would seem to be separate fares for rush hour and off peak.

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If Metra was focused on the passenger (lol), they'd have tap in/tap out (true distance based) ventra with capped fares and discounted/free CTA and Pace transfers.

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9 hours ago, Tcmetro said:

If Metra was focused on the passenger (lol), they'd have tap in/tap out (true distance based) ventra with capped fares and discounted/free CTA and Pace transfers.

Tap in tap out would so delay boarding that at somewhere like CUS or Ogilvie, you would have to check in an hour early for your train. One can already see how messed up CUS is when BN has a signalling issue. As frequently noted when Ventra was initiated, there is no way to enforce tap off on the diesel lines, many of which deboard passengers while blocking the street.

Joint fares will occur only when the service boards are abolished,* and now that they are no longer feuding, they won't be. As I noted 15 years before, somebody's project was not going to work because CTA had no incentive to pay Metra under a purchase of service agreement. Similarly Metra doesn't have any incentive to give CTA and Pace riders a ride for 25 cents. It subsidizes some feeder routes (CTA 128, Pace 630s) but doesn't pay the fares. There is stuff like Link Up passes for that.

Does any other commuter railroad under management of the regional authority do that? For instance MTA sells UniTickets, interchanging with the bus authorities, but that seems about the same as the Link Up pass, or even more restrictive, as they may be used on MTA Bus and NYCTA bus only at certain stations.  SEPTA has separate fares for surface and Regional Rail. MBTA has certain zone passes also good on local bus, subway, and ferry, but interzone tickets and passes are not available on automated ticket vending machines, and you either have to use the app or an agent. Thus it does not appear that Metra policies are out of line.

 

__________

*Note that each service board has the statutory authority to set its own fares.

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MARC Weekly and Monthly fares (https://mta.maryland.gov/marc-fares) are good for local bus connections.

Seattle Sound Transit Monthly and Annual passes simply have a fare denomination and are good for whatever regional transit services charge that fare or lower. More expensive services take the difference off of the store value in the e-purse. Single ride fares also allow transfers in a similar method. (http://www.soundtransit.org/orca)

GO Transit has introduced tap-on, tap-off for commuter train fares, have reduced price transfers (typically 50-80 cents) with local providers, and after 40 rides, are free (capped fares). Of course, longer trips than usual will incur the surcharge. (http://www.gotransit.com/public/en/fares/presto.aspx#fares)

Denver has completely integrated commuter rail fares into the bus and light rail fare system. (http://www.rtd-denver.com/Fares.shtml)

SF Bay Area has a very byzantine fare structure, but there are transfer discounts between most agencies and BART and Caltrain, and a Caltrain pass is good for VTA and SamTrans travel (https://www.clippercard.com/ClipperWeb/)

In Miami, the most expensive monthly regional pass is $145, and is good for local bus and commuter rail. (http://www.tri-rail.com/fares/easy-card/) There are also some transfer discounts for other fare types.

Dallas regional commuter rail fares include local transfers. (http://www.trinityrailwayexpress.org/farezones.html)

-

The problem here (and in the US, in general) is that antiquated agency practices have direct impacts on transit usage because of artificial boundaries created by mode. The agencies already connect to each other and are providing service, why not provide discounts to improve service quality, and ultimately, ridership?

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53 minutes ago, Tcmetro said:

The problem here (and in the US, in general) is that antiquated agency practices have direct impacts on transit usage because of artificial boundaries created by mode. The agencies already connect to each other and are providing service, why not provide discounts to improve service quality, and ultimately, ridership?

As I indicated above, here there is the LinkUp Pass, and Pace Bus Plus, which give Metra riders a discount. Most, but not all of what you cited was using a pass, so it is rare that a TA allows bus and commuter rail rides on a single fare (Denver apparently being the exception). It looks like since "you know who's" proposal of CTA fares and transfers on Metra is going nowhere, the LinkUp Pass conforms to what most metropolitan areas are doing. The Link Up Pass is $55, compared to $100 for a CTA 30 day pass.

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On ‎7‎/‎29‎/‎2016 at 10:04 PM, Pace831 said:

What is the purpose of weekend passes?

  • A. Introduce new riders to Metra by emphasizing the special low weekend fare.
  • B. Promote taking the train instead of driving, especially for downtown events.
  • C. Encourage trips to be taken on weekends instead of weekday rush hours, thereby reducing crowding on rush hour trains.
  • D. Increase ridership in an attempt to justify weekend service.
  • E. Weekend passes have historically been offered, so the idea of eliminating them has not been discussed much.

Again, what is the purpose of these tickets?

  • A. Lollapalooza is subsidizing them.
  • B. Everyone will be coming home drunk, so keep them away from their cars.
  • C. Someone disagrees with your statement that people would be willing to pay more.

I personally ride on weekends (and with the special Lolla pass) only because it is cheaper. If they hadn't offered the $20 pass I wouldn't have rode at all this weekend. However, I agree that Metra would probably bring in more revenue by eliminating these "deals". The best solution would seem to be separate fares for rush hour and off peak.

All fine and dandy...but then, I don't want to hear how broke the agency is and how fares need be raised again...especially when those who ride daily continue to get screwed. Your choice of Lolla, for example, is pay $15 (average) a day to take the train, or fight traffic, burn gas and give Rham $40 a day to park. The $15 still sounds like a bargain to me.

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38 minutes ago, trainman8119 said:

All fine and dandy...but then, I don't want to hear how broke the agency is and how fares need be raised again...especially when those who ride daily continue to get screwed. Your choice of Lolla, for example, is pay $15 (average) a day to take the train, or fight traffic, burn gas and give Rham $40 a day to park. The $15 still sounds like a bargain to me.

They already seem to have adopted a policy of annual incremental fare increases. Now the "money shortage" is all for capital costs, which raising fares wouldn't help with.

We'll have to wait and see what the consultant comes up with. If nothing else, they should at least raise weekend passes to $10 at the next increase.

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2 hours ago, Pace831 said:

Now the "money shortage" is all for capital costs, which raising fares wouldn't help with.

But that's the justification for raising fares. It appears that with all the CTA bond deals and leases in the back of each budget, Pace being authorized to issue $100 million of bonds, and this with Metra, the farebox is paying for capital. Metra justified the last fare increase on that it (and all railroads) had an unfunded mandate to install positive train control, and is now on a path to do  so around 2018.

On trainman's point, it probably still gets down to that if Metra has to run a train once every two or three hours on the weekend, it may as well have some passengers and revenue.

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1 hour ago, Busjack said:

But that's the justification for raising fares. . . and this with Metra, the farebox is paying for capital. Metra justified the last fare increase on that it (and all railroads) had an unfunded mandate to install positive train control, and is now on a path to do  so around 2018.

They said it was for the operating costs associated with PTC, and to temporarily cover the capital funding shortfall until state funds become available again.

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4 hours ago, Pace831 said:

They said it was for the operating costs associated with PTC, and to temporarily cover the capital funding shortfall until state funds become available again.

Capital is capital.

The budget is the primary source. Why don't you read it instead of arguing?* Even though the Tribune is not the primary source, the expression "help fund the agency's capital program to buy and refurbish equipment" was NOT there qualified by "until state funds become available again." Maybe some of the headline links said something like that, but the article certainly did not.

You can read the CTA budget too, and tell us what the pages and pages on bond deals are and what funds are paying those bonds.

_________________

*Page 1 says:

Last year, for the first time in the agency’s history, Metra unveiled a $2.4 billion plan to modernize its rail fleet, the first long-range rolling stock plan in Metra history. To do that, Metra increased fares to address current and future operations, equipment and other critical infrastructure needs like the federally mandated Positive Train Control system rather than respond in a fiscally irresponsible manner by kicking the proverbial budget can down the road. (emphasis added)

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