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: metraRI, JamesT4

  by MACTRAXX
 
Everyone: I was looking at some recent METRA timetables and I noticed that METRA now has a $3 penalty charge when a ticket office is open prior to train time or if there is a ticket vending machine available...First: How much of a deterrent has the penalty charge been in the way of discouraging on-board cash fare collection remembering
that the penalty was much lower in the past? Is the penalty charge enforced fairly? I recall that when the LIRR charged a penalty the time was if a ticket office was open 30 minutes before scheduled train time and if a working TVM is available...Second: Do any lines other then Metra Electric have any TVMs at outlying stations or in Chicago terminals today? Third: F40c brings up an interesting thought: PEAK and OFF-PEAK fares for weekday travel and I thought that the peak periods would be: 6am to 10am
AM Peak going into Chicago terminals and 4pm to 7pm PM Peak leaving Chicago terminals - the prime commuting times and directions. Has METRA ever looked into charging both levels of fares on weekdays? I recall an experiment that was used on the Milwaukee Road West Line to Elgin when it was being operated by NIRC in the mid 80s: Half Off At Off Peak - in which all off-peak fares were exactly half of the full peak price. I remember taking a ride and I noticed decent ridership on the trains I rode back and forth to Elgin. I feel that the discount should be if it is offered between 25 and 33 percent less then full peak-hour fares - 50 percent was a big incentive after the RTA money troubles and fare increases back in the early 80s and since the creation of METRA the system has worked rather well since.

Anyone have any thoughts on offering two levels of weekday fares and can it work well on METRA? I do feel that it can and perhaps make ridership even stronger...

MACTRAXX
  by doepack
 
MACTRAXX wrote:Everyone: I was looking at some recent METRA timetables and I noticed that METRA now has a $3 penalty charge when a ticket office is open prior to train time or if there is a ticket vending machine available...First: How much of a deterrent has the penalty charge been in the way of discouraging on-board cash fare collection remembering that the penalty was much lower in the past?
I haven't noticed much of a change, there still seem to be around the same number of people having to pay the penalty now than it was before the increase. Although there's no way to know for sure, the modest increase in the surcharge probably hasn't given that big of a jump to revenue...
MACTRAXX wrote: Is the penalty charge enforced fairly?
Most of the time. Staffed UP/W stations from Zone D westward close at about 1pm or so, and trains 48 (inbound) & 31 (outbound) are usually the last daily trains one can ride where the surcharge applies, it is waived on later trains and on weekends when the stations are closed. (Exception being of course during the "Taste", and other city summertime events when most suburban ticket offices have extended hours during the week and on weekends). Most folks aren't aware of the policy of course, and act surprised when the conductor slaps that surcharge onto the regular fare. One of the best excuses I heard was "I thought that was just for getting on downtown!"...
MACTRAXX wrote:Second: Do any lines other then Metra Electric have any TVMs at outlying stations or in Chicago terminals today?
Nope, no TVM's on the diesel lines yet. The Burlington could really use them, especially at the outer end stations...
MACTRAXX wrote: Third: F40c brings up an interesting thought: PEAK and OFF-PEAK fares for weekday travel and I thought that the peak periods would be: 6am to 10am AM Peak going into Chicago terminals and 4pm to 7pm PM Peak leaving Chicago terminals - the prime commuting times and directions. Has METRA ever looked into charging both levels of fares on weekdays? I recall an experiment that was used on the Milwaukee Road West Line to Elgin when it was being operated by NIRC in the mid 80s: Half Off At Off Peak - in which all off-peak fares were exactly half of the full peak price.
Interesting. Unfortunately, that would never fly today, since our public transit agencies continue to be chronically underfunded. But I think Metra should adopt some form of a peak fare ticket; for instance, charging say, 10-15% more for one way cash fares either onboard trains at Zone A stations (especially where there's nearby CTA service available) or if buying a one-way ticket at one of the downtown stations during the evening rush. Wouldn't apply to monthlies or 10-rides...
  by buddah
 
Interesting fact indeed about the Milwaukee line, but as far back as I can remember Metra has always had the same fare structure no matter what time of day.. I do agree a off peak fare structure would be nice similar to Transit in your neck of the woods Marctraxx. I remember just last year coming in to NYC on the Maple leaf then high tailing it from Penn to Grand for the last train and riding Metro North From Grand Central to Bethel CT to visit family and back a few days later. I was surprised that I got a discount for riding off peak back to NYC. I couldn't help but think to myself. "I wish Metra had a Off peak discount fares."

Alas the best I could hope for is Meta to accordingly adjust there weekend fare. It seems quite ridiculous to pay $7 for a unlimited weekend pass if the Metra line closest to you only runs on one weekend day (Ya I live near the SWS line). Id be more inept if Metra got smart and offered 2 passes a $5 for one day or $7 for two days weekend pass. ( seems to be the smart option since the weekend Pass use to be $5). Let people have the option, as I notice most patrons only use the weekend pass for one day travel regardless of what route there on.

I'd have to disagree with you doepack, I'd be against an increase in the A zones ( near CTA routes) if you add that type of surcharge it will only drive Metra patrons away from Metra and on to the CTA, that does not help Metra's bottom line in any way shape or form. Also I say the lack of TVM on diesel Metra lines is a great disappointment. I was sure they would be installing them on diesel lines very soon as Most MED stations have now received New TVM. hers a shot of the Old and newTVM I took this while over in Flossmoor IL just a few months ago.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/8453967@N08/4681513123/
  by MACTRAXX
 
Buddah: Interesting picture of two types of METRA TVMs - the older 70s era Cubic machines that have been retrofitted next to new GFI machines - I wonder if these are a test of sorts before METRA uses them on other lines due to the long time use of TVMs on Metra Electric? Do the older machines still sell thick paper ticket stock with the magnetic coded backs which are no longer necessary as most know now that ME no longer uses turnstiles or has that stock been updated for today's use?

MACTRAXX
  by CHTT1
 
Metra has never shown any interest in adding vending machines to any line other than Metra Electric. Perhaps with a new executive director, the agency will take a new look at the issue. Metra has had to be dragged into modern ticket sales, i.e. using credit cards, the internet, sometimes by order of the Illinois General Assembly.
  by orangeline
 
CHTT1 wrote:Metra has never shown any interest in adding vending machines to any line other than Metra Electric.
Personally I hope TVMs are still not interesting to Metra. I admit I'm old fashioned, but I enjoy dealing with a real human instead of a machine or computer, whether its while doing banking or purchasing a ticket at my local Metra station. Sometimes on a slow day the agent and I exchange a few observations on Metra or life in general. It isn't much, but it means something. When the ticket agents are finally gone it'll be a sad day for me and maybe a few of you as well.