— Frank Noverini (@noverini) February 5, 2014
Tweet shows a different Metra line but is representative of experiences since #Chiberia began in January.
My friend Shaun relayed this story to me about his coworker who rides Metra’s BNSF line from the Aurora/Naperville area, the commuter train in Chicagoland that carries over 300,000 people each weekday but fractions on weekends (because it rarely runs).
The train he was about to board Wednesday morning with several other people arrived and when the doors opened only one of the two sliding doors opened. The other one was stuck shut. So he “touched” it to get it to open up and the conductor yelled at him.
The conductor said “we’ve told you several times to not do that!” seemingly referring to other people who had done so, not my coworker himself. The conductor told him a guy at the last stop did that and it “broke the door.” (sounds like it already was!])
The conductor told him it would be a $500 fine if it happened again. At that point my coworker said he just shut up. When my boss tried to get on the train the conductor told him he wasn’t allowed to board! There was apparently plenty of room to get on so this was at the “conductor’s discretion.” Coworker had to wait 20 min for the next train [in single digit temperatures, no less], missed a meeting, etc…
Just completely shocked me that they wouldn’t let him on the train for pushing the door open (no sign, conductor wasn’t at the broken door to tell people not to touch it, etc.).
This started a conversation about our perceptions of Metra.
Steven: “It’s right that the new Metra CEO [Don Orseno]* wants to work on communication, but I think he needs to emphasize customer service overall.”
Shaun: “In Ogilvie Transportation Center tonight, same announcement played: ‘some trains are delayed. We will continue to update you.’
Every few minutes — no actual information. Lot of work to do I’m guessing. Wonder how many Metra people in charge ride their trains.”
Steven: “I rarely ride Metra for ‘important’ reasons (like going to work or for meetings). The last time was on the Electric to a meeting in South Shore in October.
Every time I ride I feel that the lumbering of the trains as they exit the stations (switching tracks, they sway side to side) is analogous to how Metra operates: ‘move in a slow, heavy, awkward way’.”
Shaun: “It reminds me of a novelty train ride. Like at an amusement park.
I only take it from work to home. To work is too risky. CTA is consistent (lately actually, Red Line at morning rush is so frequent I don’t even check the arrival times while walking to the station).
Kind of funny how you say you can’t rely on Metra for work or meetings, considering that’s what people use it for.
* Orseno, who’s been there for decades, said at the Metra board meeting where he was promoted to executive director from his interim position that he drives to work because the SouthWest Service “doesn’t get him to the office early enough, or home late enough” (Chicago Tribune).
However, Orseno lives in Manhattan so you can see how the infrequency would be a problem: this station only has three trains per direction per day. Remember from my previous post that Chicago rapid transit service has only shrunk since 1950. I wonder what he can do about that…