ChicagoTribune wrote:Although the majority of riders use monthly passes, passengers in January still bought more than 666,000 one-way tickets or used 10-ride tickets, which conductors have to punch individually.
Ok, time for a little math. 666,000 passengers over a month averages out to about 21,500 passengers a day. Not including weekends, this amounts to only 8% of Metra's average daily ridership. During rush, the vast majority of riders use monthlies, and for those using ten-rides, it only takes a second to punch it, and no receipt is issued. Conductors only issue receipts for cash fares paid aboard the train, and the majority of those are on off-peak runs, plus most weekend riders buy the $5 dollar pass anyway, so what's the big deal?
ChicagoTribune wrote:The Metra Web site looks like an old paper [railroad] schedule posted on the Web," Schofer said. "It is not easy to find or see what you are looking for. And it is not interactive."
Yes, the lack of interactivity can be a bit annoying, and the site is set to be re-designed later this year. But seriously, I guarantee that 99.99998% of the users that visit the site want to know schedule and fare information. That's it. Nothing more, nothing less. In its current form, it's not that hard to find. But in a web 2.0 world, we just have to continue to dumb things down for everybody else (Sigh)...
ChicagoTribune wrote:The MBTA boasts that it offers first-in-the-nation free Wi-Fi service on its commuter trains.
The Boston-area agency plans to have at least two coaches on each train Wi-Fi-enabled by spring.
The MBTA says it costs about $1 million to install the hardware, plus about $270,000 a year to service, but the agency expects to make up the cost in additional ridership.
All fine and dandy. But what Mr. Wronski (the author of this article) forgot to mention is that the MBTA already has some of the highest fares in the country. For instance, a ride on the MBTA's Haverhill line from North Station (Zone 1) to Haverhill (Zone 7) is $7.25 for a one-way ticket, or $235/month, which covers about 30 miles. Riding a similar distance on Metra (from say, CUS to Route 59 on BNSF) is $5.15 for a one-way, or $139.05/month. And yet, MBTA's commuter rail ridership averages 150,000 riders a day, or 100,000 less than Metra. So if the cost of the MBTA's new wi-fi service isn't offset by additional ridership, guess what will happen to the fares? Besides, as one commenter said in response to the article: Wireless ability on the train is a luxury, not a necessity. It would only add to operating costs (and passed on to customers)--and conductors would have to field a whole new slew of complaints and problems if the network goes down. Amen to that.
ChicagoTribune wrote:But designating "quiet cars" or requiring cell phone users to talk in vestibules would be impractical, Pardonnet said.
I've raised the issue before about having quiet cars on trains, and I think it would be a great idea, even if it's just applied to rush hours. I wish she'd be more specific in describing why she feels it would be impractical...
Really, I don't know what the purpose of this hit piece was. No, Metra may not have the technological bells and whistles that the MBTA, or other commuter agencies have, but they still move thousands of folks every day safely on clean, comfortable trains. And compared to other large systems, they do so while having among the lowest fares in the country...