Discussion related to commuter rail and rapid transit operations in the Chicago area including the South Shore Line, Metra Rail, and Chicago Transit Authority.

Moderators: JamesT4, metraRI

  by wilmette2008
Hi I would like to know how dose Metra count the money/receipts from conductors? How dose metra cont the money form on board fairs and make sure the conductors are no pocketing it? While on that topic where do most conductors turn in there remits? Do they do this at downtown stations such as ogolvie or union? Or at outlaying stations such as Waukegan or Fox Lake? Please let me know thank you.
  by byte
I think each conductor is given a pad (or more than one) of tickets to punch (think like a pad of post-it notes), and at the end of the day the leftover ticket pads are turned in, and the remaining number of tickets is counted to see how many were actually sold. As far as how they determine how many zone Bs were sold vs zone Cs, etc ... that's a good question. If I remember it this week I'll ask a conductor on my train to/from work.

Extra tickets and revenues are probably turned in at downtown terminals, and put into a safe of some sort - if only just to get the money out of the conductor's hands and make them less of a target for a robbery.
  by wilmette2008
If i'm not mistaken aren't they're two copies of the cash fair?
  by metraRI
There is a duplicate copy of each ticket the conductor issues, not counting weekend passes. On weekday mornings, conductors on RI train #505 give each ticket agent along the line a Manila envelope... as far as what is inside, I have no clue.
  by wilmette2008
Kind of off topic how do Metra conductors know ticket office hours? Please let me know thank you.
  by doepack
The short answer- it's part of their job. Most outlying stations with agents close around 1-1:30pm or so, and since the majority of Metra's conductors work the same runs every day, they'll know when an agent is on duty or closed depending on the time of day. On UP, if an agent isn't present at a station on any given day (or leaves early) commuter control will notify the crews accordingly, and instruct them not to enforce the $3 on board penalty...
  by metraRI
As doepack stated, usually conductors know the times when agents are on duty. I don't know if its the case on other districts, but agents on RI have rolling closing hours starting at 12:45p at Joliet, and ending at 1:15p at 91st Street... essentially following the first pm departure from Joliet, inbound train #514. Of course downtown locations have extended hours, and MED stations have vending machines.
  by byte
Interestingly, I've purchased tickets on the MED when there were clearly vending machines available, but wasn't charged the extra fee. Only during off-peak, though.
Everyone: I remember that METRA fare reciepts have two halfs-like other commuter RRs like the LIRR with one half going to the passenger and the other kept by the Conductor to turn in along with the cash collected.

If METRA is similar to the LIRR and Metro-North Conductors carry a card showing all the hours of the ticket offices in question and have the discretion on how to apply the $3 penalty...

They also know which stations can be a Conductor's Depository meaning a station or terminal in which to turn in revenue collected...

Byte-I wonder myself on how the $3 penalty is enforced on ME...The LIRR's/MNCR policy in recent years is that all stations with TVMs and/or ticket sales have the penalty applied...

There is a small group of LIRR and MNCR stations that have limited service and no machines...they are called Exception stations and the station/TVM fare is always charged on board...

The big change in recent years is that LIRR/MNCR Conductors no longer have the discretion to waive the penalty charge and they must collect the higher on-board fare...in case of a dispute a passenger must contact the LIRR or MNCR and submit the reciept for a refund of the difference between station fare and on-board fare...

I have noted that a penalty charge has to be high enough to be a deterrent to on-board sales but I also feel that Conductors should have discretion on applying it...
The LIRR and MNCR Conductors for that matter no longer have that option if the boarding station in question is not an Exception station...

  by Tadman
I think Metra conductors still can waive the fee. I once found MED ticket machines at 211th broken, and was about to be charged the extra. I told the conductor, and without another word he waived the fee. Good guy. I figured I'd have to plead my case at least. This was about five years ago, though.
  by Engineer Spike
i used to work for BN, on the suburban trains. Unlike most of the other lines, except the UP (C&NW), they are BNSF employees, not Metra. Some of my facts may not pertain to Metra employees.
The agent at Aurora supplied the ticket books. The tickets were called duplexes. As stated, one for the passenger, and one for the company. The agent would record the number series of the tickets, and to whom they were issued. Every trainman and conductor has a punch with a unique mark. Mine was an upper case E. The train crews supply their own change money. It was wise to only have enough tickets for immediate use. Loss would require paying maximum fare on all outstanding tickets. Guys would turn them in if bidding freight for an extended time. The Metra agents at CUS could supply tickets too, it i was running short. Their tickets were from a whole different number series.
The tickets and proceeds needed to be remitted within 5 days, or the company might invite the employee to an investigation. This was sometimes tricky for extra board guys. They might get stuck out of town, and remit on the 11th. hour. The company had auditors who would add up the tickets and make sure that the proper sum was received. Sometimes they would issue a correction letter. This was if the remitted sum was off. I worked a job in the evening. All of the agencies were closed except for Aurora and CUS. This meant cutting hundreds of cash fares. Sometimes I would make a simple addition error. I would then have to cough up the dollar or two that I missed in my calculation.
The trains had spotters on them sometimes. These were like mystery shoppers. They would make sure that the train crew was professional. They would also look for the crews not charging. Between the spotters and the unique punch marks, management had a fairly tight control on its funds.
  by TrainManUPRR
That's basically how it works on the UP as well, so I assume it's probably the same for the entire Metra system.
  by Tadman
If you check out the archives for Santucci's column, he goes into this a length on either South Shore or Metra.
  by wilmette2008
Ok one last question what about during events such as Taste of Chicago, lollapoloza or other events where outlaying ticket offices have extended hours during the week and on weekends, how do conductors notified about this?
  by Engineer Spike
I forgot if they put on second trick agents. There were some days when I could only get some of the tickets collected between stops. Making sure passengers got on and off safely was the first priority. I just did the best that I could.
Besides the Taste of Chicago, Bears home games were hard days too. Most of the agents worked Mon.- Fri. One other busy day was Cubs opening day. I worked it on the day that they were remembering Harry Caray, who had just died. Luckily, it was a day game, so all of the agents wee working. There weren't many cash fares, but it was a rush to get as many tickets punched as possible.