Ticket office closing

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Ticket office closing

Postby wilmette2008 » Thu Jan 26, 2017 2:18 pm

So it looks like Brookfield is losing it's Ticket agent https://metrarail.com/about-metra/newsr ... lose-feb-7 the Treand seem to continue from last year after the closings of several Ticket offices including Harvard and Lake Bluff. I am surprised they closed Harvard seeing as it was used for Conductors/Trainman to turn in Revenue, so can you explain what typically happens to the affected employ's. Thanks
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Re: Ticket office closing

Postby orangeline » Fri Jan 27, 2017 8:23 am

Sad that another job is being lost to progress.

Maybe its my imagination or something, but in the dim recesses of my memory is the idea that Metra was considering installing ticket vending machines at larger stations with no agent and as agents go the way of the dodo TVMs will take their place. Am I right about that? A couple of years ago I rode NJT several times and TVMs were at every station, including the ones with agents such as NYP, Newark, New Brunswick, etc. and there appeared to be a coexistence between man and machine.
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Re: Ticket office closing

Postby justalurker66 » Fri Jan 27, 2017 7:06 pm

Coexist until the machines take over. If the machines are more cost effective and are accepted by passengers they will win.
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Re: Ticket office closing

Postby eolesen » Wed Feb 08, 2017 9:54 am

Are jobs being lost, or just being attritted out as senior agents retire? My understanding is that the union had location protection in place so that nobody would be displaced as more and more technology came in. There was just no guarantee from the company that they would be replaced.

Even TVM's are obsolete with the Ventra app coming out. There's nothing to maintain when customers hold the same capabilities in their hand.

As for cash deposits for ticket revenue... pretty certain there are drop-boxes in BAR HVD MCH CLK ELB WKG for crews to drop cash and reports into. Even if there is an agent, those drops need to be made 24/7 and agents are only there M-F during mornings.
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Re: Ticket office closing

Postby MACTRAXX » Thu Feb 09, 2017 9:01 am

justalurker66 wrote:Coexist until the machines take over. If the machines are more cost effective and are accepted by passengers they will win.


JL and Everyone: In the case of NJT and the LIRR it took the implementation of high on board
penalty surcharges to force riders to use machines before boarding: $5 flat on NJT and higher
fares of between $5.75 and $6.50 more on the LIRR. METRA now has the $5 penalty charge
with the introduction of the Ventra app option now readily available as most of us know...

Has METRA made any new move to install TVMs at stations on lines other then METRA Electric?

Noting how METRA is closing selected station ticket offices this reminded me how the LIRR had
closed some ticket offices in the recent past - by waiting for a senior ticket agent or clerk to
retire and then abolish and not fill the job afterwards.

In any case there is a percentage of riders that will not use a smartphone app and prefers to
have a physical ticket as payment of fare - count me in this category - and perhaps there are
some passengers who refuse to use any electronic ticketing option due to privacy reasons.

I am no fan of "forcing" riders to use something they would rather perhaps not use but in this
case it would take a substantial incentive - high penalty charges for starters - for passengers
to use a new or updated fare option. Any new electronic system should be easy to use and
decipher or it may end up being thoroughly shunned by riders. As an example SEPTA Regional
Rail in Philadelphia is seeking to mass-replace their current ticket and pass system with the new
SEPTA Key - which will include turnstiles and gates at major stations such as those in Center City
Philadelphia - which may end up causing far more problems then it is worth on implementation.
Most of us know and remember how the turnstiles and gates on METRA Electric were and how
they eventually fell out of favor over time...

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Re: Ticket office closing

Postby orangeline » Thu Jul 06, 2017 3:54 pm

Today I was at the LaGrange Road Metra station looking to buy a round-trip ticket downtown for tomorrow when I saw the ticket agent's window was screened off. This was roughly 8:30 am and the ticket booth was historically open Monday-Friday until about 1:00 pm. It was then that I saw a small hand-written notice that the ticket office was closed for good. What a shame! Other times I've ridden Metra during the work week there always seemed to be at least a few riders looking to purchase a one-way, round-trip, 10-ride or monthly ticket. Now I guess I'll have to pay a frazzled conductor on a busy rush-hour train in the morning and stand in line at CUS to buy a ticket home, assuming that office is open. I don't go into the city much anymore, but the pleasure of interacting with a human made it just a tiny bit more bearable. Now that's gone. Fewer employees with a salary and benefits, but the rider gets the joy of a higher fare. What was it Mies van der Rohe said, "Less is More"? I guess in this case it really is "Less for More!"
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Re: Ticket office closing

Postby andrewjw » Thu Jul 06, 2017 8:55 pm

orangeline wrote:Now I guess I'll have to pay a frazzled conductor on a busy rush-hour train in the morning and stand in line at CUS to buy a ticket home, assuming that office is open. I don't go into the city much anymore, but the pleasure of interacting with a human made it just a tiny bit more bearable. Now that's gone.


I suspect the presence of Ventra mobile ticketing especially caused a big cut in outer-station ticket office sales - a lot of people don't take the same pleasure in the human element of the ticket window as you do. While this isn't an alternative for everyone, I expect it brought the revenues down below the necessary threshold.
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Re: Ticket office closing

Postby justalurker66 » Fri Jul 07, 2017 5:02 pm

andrewjw wrote:I suspect the presence of Ventra mobile ticketing especially caused a big cut in outer-station ticket office sales - a lot of people don't take the same pleasure in the human element of the ticket window as you do. While this isn't an alternative for everyone, I expect it brought the revenues down below the necessary threshold.

Closing offices and relying on Ventra should be expected. Only the largest offices will remain open for those who "must" purchase from a human (regardless of personal preferences and the busyness of outlying offices). The machines are cheaper than staffed offices.
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Re: Ticket office closing

Postby Tadman » Sat Jul 08, 2017 9:49 pm

The Ventra app is a bit frustrating but always open.
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Re: Ticket office closing

Postby R36 Combine Coach » Sat Jul 08, 2017 10:46 pm

justalurker66 wrote:Closing offices and relying on Ventra should be expected. Only the largest offices will remain open for those who "must" purchase from a human (regardless of personal preferences and the busyness of outlying offices). The machines are cheaper than staffed offices.
Other "legacy" commuter railroads which inherited ticket offices and passenger operations from fallen flag carriers (most notably NJT and MNCR in particular) have closed most outlying ticket offices and rolled out TVMs throughout the system. The few remaining ticket agents are either open weekday AM only (NJT) or at larger stations and hubs (MNCR). The on-board cash surcharge is waived for seniors and disabled passengers.
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Re: Ticket office closing

Postby orangeline » Sun Jul 09, 2017 6:59 am

I realize that TVMs and other forms of payment are more efficient and cost-effective for the railroads. Don't get me wrong, activity such as this has been going on for centuries, where a new or better method means that fewer humans are required to get the same result. But an argument has always been that improved efficiency reduces costs to the user. OK, when will the cost go down and get passed on to the riding public? When will conductors and trainmen be eliminated? Years ago CTA got rid of the 2nd person (conductors) on their trains. Fares were held, but eventually did go up and up again.

I made an earlier comment about having a few moments of interaction with the ticket agent. I'm like that. I'm one of those old guys who'll still go to the bank and deal with a teller and to the post office to buy stamps and send packages and to a brick and mortar store or mall to purchase what I need. Obsolete behavior, right? One other thing that later occurred to me was that when I paid for my ticket with cash (never by check or credit card) I was reducing the possibility of my personal information becoming subject to identity theft. Some of you may scoff at the idea But, how many times have you heard of banks or public agencies and private businesses get hacked and their records held hostage or sold to someone? I just don't care to have my personal data floating around in too many electronic places and losing the human ticket agent reduced my sense of security.
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Re: Ticket office closing

Postby justalurker66 » Sun Jul 09, 2017 12:52 pm

orangeline wrote:OK, when will the cost go down and get passed on to the riding public?

Other costs continue to rise ... so even when the agency saves money by cutting one cost another cost will take its place. (And I am thinking of costs beyond maintaining TVMs such as increased maintenance costs, fuel costs, PTC upgrades, etc.)

orangeline wrote:When will conductors and trainmen be eliminated?

As soon as the agencies can guarantee that everyone on the train paid for their travel. Not hard for a barrier system such as CTA. They could scale back to random ticket inspections to reduce the number of assistant conductors on a train. (The engineer and conductor will be required as long as the FRA says they are required on FRA regulated railroads.)

Just remember that these cuts are to save the agency money ... not the passengers. They only way the passengers save money is when the fare increases are less than they would have been without the cuts. And seeing a saving in a rate increase is hard.

orangeline wrote:One other thing that later occurred to me was that when I paid for my ticket with cash (never by check or credit card) I was reducing the possibility of my personal information becoming subject to identity theft.

That sounds like a personal problem, not an agency problem (unless they get hacked and have to offer identity protection to people who had their information potentially exposed). That becomes an actuarial question ... is it cheaper for the agency to risk an occasional loss? Securing their systems is still cheaper than paying for cash tellers at various stations (plus risking that their cash be stolen in robberies).

If you are concerned about identity theft I suggest you buy pre-paid or reloadable credit/debit cards. Crooks can only take the amount of money you load on the card.
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