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On 7/31/2016 at 3:51 PM, Pace831 said:

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.

Daily Herald has the proposals, the one that might have teeth being a rush hour surcharge. Stuff like doing away with the senior discount during rush hour doesn't seem to have "traction." There is also a recommendation to consolidate some fare zones.

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Here is the presentation that the Board received today:

https://metrarail.com/sites/default/files/assets/about-metra/leadership/board_meetings/201709/20_farestructurestudydraftrecommendations.pdf

Specific recommendations:

  • Regular fares for off-peak, reverse peak, intermediate stations.
  • Peak surcharge to go to downtown stations.
  • Reassign some stations (current zones are not completely mileage based)
  • Consolidate AB zones
  • Consolidate JKLM zones
  • Standardize incremental zone charges
  • Introduce 1-day pass, priced at 2x peak fares.
  • Weekend pass validity starting at 3 PM Friday ($10 paper, $9 app)
  • 10-ride discount down to only 5%
  • Monthly passes at 28.5x peak fare
  • Eliminate reduced fare monthly passes and only offer reduced fares for 1-way and 10-ride.
    • Not valid for AM Peak trains for seniors/disabled/medicare
    • Valid at all times for K-12

Public input will be sought in January 2018 and final report delivery in March 2018.

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21 minutes ago, Tcmetro said:
  • Consolidate JKLM zones
  • Standardize incremental zone charges

The two combined would aggravate the current complaint that those in the outer zones don't pay their proportionate share as it is. Would result in

  • one less increment to Kenosha, Fox Lake
  • 2 fewer to Antioch
  • 5 fewer to Harvard

The slide show at the end says something about regional fairness, but I don't think that McHenry County is entitled to that big of a break.

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8 minutes ago, Tcmetro said:

 

  • Regular fares for off-peak, reverse peak, intermediate stations.
  • Peak surcharge to go to downtown stations.
  • Reassign some stations (current zones are not completely mileage based)
  • Consolidate AB zones
  • Consolidate JKLM zones
  • Standardize incremental zone charges
  • 10-ride discount down to only 5%
  • Monthly passes at 28.5x peak fare

These were all expected and are sensible changes.

12 minutes ago, Tcmetro said:
  • Eliminate reduced fare monthly passes and only offer reduced fares for 1-way and 10-ride.

I'm not sure the rationale for this, other than not many people use reduced fare monthlies, so just dont bother printing them.

15 minutes ago, Tcmetro said:

 

  • Weekend pass validity starting at 3 PM Friday ($10 paper, $9 app)

Raising the price is fine, $10 is still a bargain. I know Friday night validity is a common request, but that's almost making it too good of a deal. The app discount is unfair.

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7 minutes ago, Busjack said:

The two combined would aggravate the current complaint that those in the outer zones don't pay their proportionate share as it is. Would result in

  • one less increment to Kenosha, Fox Lake
  • 2 fewer to Antioch
  • 5 fewer to Harvard

The slide show at the end says something about regional fairness, but I don;t think that McHenry County is entitled to that big of a break.

Where does it say they won't change all fare prices to address that issue? If anything, that's what "standardize fare proportions" means. Given the relatively low numbers of people regularly traveling downtown from the outer zones, I doubt it will matter much.

Edited by Pace831

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Busjack: Agree completely about discrepancy between the standardization of fares and the elimination of outer fare zones. 

Pace831: I would imagine that the reasoning for the app discount is to reduce cash handling and paper pass stock. I imagine the idea is to reduce pressure on conductors during large events. That being said, it is difficult to expect a phone to retain its charge throughout an entire day, so there could be a lot of issues with promoting weekend passes on the app.

Pace831: The idea of standardization is that fares will be equitable by distance. If fare zones are priced to increase by (for example $1 for every 5 miles, why should Harvard or Kenosha riders pay the same extra $1 to ride the zone plus whatever the extra mileage to the end of the line?

As for service cuts, I would imagine the easy targets are the last round trips Sun-Thurs and some weekend trains. It would be pretty surprising if Metra cut back hours of operation though.

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2 hours ago, Tcmetro said:

Pace831: I would imagine that the reasoning for the app discount is to reduce cash handling and paper pass stock. I imagine the idea is to reduce pressure on conductors during large events. That being said, it is difficult to expect a phone to retain its charge throughout an entire day, so there could be a lot of issues with promoting weekend passes on the app.

Pace831: The idea of standardization is that fares will be equitable by distance. If fare zones are priced to increase by (for example $1 for every 5 miles, why should Harvard or Kenosha riders pay the same extra $1 to ride the zone plus whatever the extra mileage to the end of the line?

As for service cuts, I would imagine the easy targets are the last round trips Sun-Thurs and some weekend trains. It would be pretty surprising if Metra cut back hours of operation though.

On the weekend pass point, that is undoubtedly the reasoning. I just don't like the notion that people without smartphones should have to pay more. 6% of Metra riders don't have a smartphone according to the 2016 customer satisfaction survey.

The standard one-way fares currently are $3.75 for a single zone, additional $.25 for the second, $1.25 for the third, $.75 for the fourth, and $.50 per zone after that. The "unfair" part comes from the initial $3.75 and higher increments for short trips, especially the $1.25 jump. Suppose the new fare structure is $3.50 plus $.75 per additional zone. That would be an example of "standard fare increments", but still reduce the disproportionate amount paid.

For the main demographic of downtown commuters, a mileage based fare makes sense. But zones J-M are outside the range that most people regularly commute from. Consolidating those zones acknowledges that ridership trends are not the same in all areas.

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3 hours ago, Pace831 said:

Where does it say they won't change all fare prices to address that issue? If anything, that's what "standardize fare proportions" means. Given the relatively low numbers of people regularly traveling downtown from the outer zones, I doubt it will matter much.

The term that was used was "Standardize incremental zone changes" (page 6). Some now are 50 cents, others 75. If Metra standardizes all of them to, say 75 cents, it's still the case that if they consolidate zones, the last boundary will still be 75 cents, and no more incremental zone changes to Harvard.. See what @Tcmetro said above.

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12 minutes ago, Pace831 said:

For the main demographic of downtown commuters, a mileage based fare makes sense. But zones J-M are outside the range that most people regularly commute from. Consolidating those zones acknowledges that ridership trends are not the same in all areas.

Which is the other unfairness. People probably don't ride the train from Harvard to Cary, but people from Harvard are riding the train to say Palatine through Ogilvie. Considering the cost of sending a train on all that mileage for so few riders, there is no point in giving them a break compared to what riders in Zone E pay to go to Zone C or A.

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IMO...Eliminate weekend passes altogether. DO NOT give away the store on a special event, such as celebratory parade...those people travelling

would pay double the fare to get where they are going !!! Making people pay for the service would solve a whole hell of a lot of budget shortfalls.

But the politicans running the show are more worried about their votes than running a competent agency. This constant crying about a "budget crisis"

is getting so old it's not even cry wolf anymore. There is so much waste day by day, all management created and ego enforced that this will go on

for eternity. The new motto should be....fair for a few, the hell with the rest !

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23 minutes ago, trainman8119 said:

Making people pay for the service would solve a whole hell of a lot of budget shortfalls.

Maybe, maybe not. For instance, I didn't see the point of running a 2 engine 9 car train on the Milw N on a Sunday, except it might have been for Lollapalooza. On the other hand, if Metra charges full fare on weekends, nobody is going to ride the train, and once every 2 hour service will become once every never service on weekends. So, there's a marketing decision Metra has to make. It didn't even have the guts to pull Saturday service on the Blue Island branch.

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14 hours ago, Busjack said:

Which is the other unfairness. People probably don't ride the train from Harvard to Cary, but people from Harvard are riding the train to say Palatine through Ogilvie. Considering the cost of sending a train on all that mileage for so few riders, there is no point in giving them a break compared to what riders in Zone E pay to go to Zone C or A.

Again, while I can't be sure of Metra's justification, I don't think this should be thought of in terms of "giving certain people a break". We'll have to wait until they announce the actual fare prices, but I bet the outer zone riders will end up paying their share.

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Here is the fare increase proposal details: https://metrarail.com/node/5432. One ways going up by 25 cents. Monthly multiplier going to 29x.

Looks like they already are considering some of the consultant's recommendations, including:

  • Drop the 10-ride discount to 5%
  • Weekend passes to $10, but extended to Friday evenings
  • Eliminate reduced fare monthlies (Consultant recommends keeping them for K-12)

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26 minutes ago, Tcmetro said:

One ways going up by 25 cents

Same issue as last year: An A to B ticket goes up 25 cents, so does an A to M. If A to B tickets and even A to E tickets were proportionately overpriced before, it only becomes that much worse.

26 minutes ago, Tcmetro said:

Looks like they already are considering some of the consultant's recommendations

Seems like they are blaming it on the RTA (at least for doing away with reduced fare monthlies) rather than the consultant, but same result.

Also, the underlying theme seems to be that while Metra promised to use the past fare increases for  capital, only thing they did was on PTC. One interpretation is that they are begging to reelect Gov. Quinn.

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8 hours ago, Pace831 said:

More specifics on the fare changes and a link to a survey about them. Public meetings to be held soon.

The impression I got from the articles is that the consultant was more interested in moving passengers from rush hour to midday trains as opposed to recovering whatever the recovery ratio is. Maybe it is like Comm Ed paying you $50 so it doesn't have to supply energy to your old refrigerator.

Also, the article says only 1% of the riders are in Zones K, L. and M, but Metra is going 65 nukes out to serve them It appears that it applies only to the UPNW. Maybe someone has to go between Harvard and Woodstock, but I doubt they rely on the train. Similarly, most of the city zone changes are to stations with little or no ridership, and the main effect may be to make it cheaper to get off just outside downtown.

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12 hours ago, Pace831 said:

More specifics on the fare changes and a link to a survey about them. Public meetings to be held soon.

In regards to the ME, while some fares would be  lowered,  I don't know if it would have a positive  effect on ridership.  The entire S Chicago  branch  is in Zone B and ridership  is still low.  It wouldn't be  fair to the mainline passengers  south of Kensington  or to riders  on other Metra lines, but the only way to compete with CTA is to put all inner city stations outside of downtown in Zone B.  This would include Forest Glen, Hegewisch, wrightwood.

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3 hours ago, Busjack said:

The impression I got from the articles is that the consultant was more interested in moving passengers from rush hour to midday trains as opposed to recovering whatever the recovery ratio is.

Metra isn't going to attract any more rush hour commuters, so they are targeting other markets. The people moving to midday trains would be recreational riders who aren't constrained by work schedules. Most of the rush hour riders will remain, and will be paying more than off-peak riders. Based on peak pricing and attracting new off-peak trips, I don't think we can say the consultant was not so focused on the recovery ratio.

I also noted the terminology has changed from "peak surcharge" to "off peak discount". I'm not sure how significant that is, given my earlier questions about how it would be implemented.

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59 minutes ago, artthouwill said:

but the only way to compete with CTA is to put all inner city stations outside of downtown in Zone B.  This would include Forest Glen, Hegewisch, wrightwood.

Only stations in the city not on the ME with significant ridership are Hegewisch and Ravenswood. Hegewisch is tied up with whatever intergovernment agreement Metra has with NICTD. If Metra lowers the fare, it probably has to increase the subsidy. One can also argue that the 30 bus is not inherently competitive with the South Shore.

So, as in the McHenry-Woodstock example, the consultants are only acting at the margins.

29 minutes ago, Pace831 said:

I also noted the terminology has changed from "peak surcharge" to "off peak discount". I'm not sure how significant that is, given my earlier questions about how it would be implemented.

Again mere marketing, A "surcharge" would result in the public meetings being packed with protesters. But not much difference than the dumb laws about 30 years ago that "you can't increase the price of gas for credit, but you can give a discount for cash."

But, on how it would be implemented, since it is a conductor collection system, if the train leaves a terminal after 9:30 and before 3:00 p.m., you get the discount if you have the kind of ticket required. I don't know if it would be all app tickets, or Metra would have to issue another whole series of tickets.

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1 hour ago, Busjack said:

I don't know if it would be all app tickets, or Metra would have to issue another whole series of tickets.

That's basically what I had in mind when I said "implementation". I suspect the advantages will only be given to app users. They way they described the "discount" made it seem like the conductor would hand you back a dollar if you used a 10-ride on an off peak train, which is highly doubtful.

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I just took the survey, which mentioned a few new things:

- Day passes would only be available on Ventra app.

- Off peak "discount" would typically be 50 to 75 cents, implying rush hour riders would pay about the same as they do now.

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22 minutes ago, Pace831 said:

- Day passes would only be available on Ventra app.

Again, I wonder if the consultants are just playing around on the margins. Unlike the CTA Supertransfer, good for multiple rides all over the city on Sunday, the only benefit to a day pass is if one has a ride on 2 different lines (like the monthly works now).

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10 hours ago, Busjack said:

Only stations in the city not on the ME with significant ridership are Hegewisch and Ravenswood.

While Rogers Park can't match the Ravenswood ridership, in the afternoon rush, it's amazing how many people get off here & it's slow going down the stairs at that time, they're so crowded.  The majority of afternoon rush trains lose half their riders at Ravenswood & are less than  20% filled after Rogers Park. 

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On 1/23/2018 at 4:09 PM, Pace831 said:

I just took the survey, which mentioned a few new things:

- Day passes would only be available on Ventra app.

...

On a related subject, Daily Herald says Metra will stop selling tickets and passes on its website; either use the Ventra App or manual means. Too costly to upgrade the web system.

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On 4/2/2018 at 2:34 PM, Busjack said:

On a related subject, Daily Herald says Metra will stop selling tickets and passes on its website; either use the Ventra App or manual means. Too costly to upgrade the web system.

They said that it was too costly or is that your guess? Also, upon looking at the list again, Metra was the only commuter rail system in the top 10 to sell tickets on the website, for at least the last few years. Never realized

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