Metra Rail Website and Policy Questions

Full Disclosure:

I like Metra Rail a lot and I’m grateful we have that option in the Chicago area to get to and from downtown and the stops in between. In fact, I’ve read and heard from railroad aficionados that Metra is the best commuter rail system in the country. If you live near a train station, Metra typically provides many rush-hour trains to get commuters and traveling to and from Chicago. When my kids were young, I liked the option of purchasing a weekend pass for $5.50 where kids under 11 rode free.

Having said that, I recently had to do some research on to help some out of town travelers determine the best approach to getting downtown and spending the day in Chicago. I was somewhat disappointed in their current policies. Comments below:

Metra Rail

1. Very difficult to find the Reduced Fare definition. I had to search and search for it and it didn’t appear to be placed in a logical place.

2. From my station in Libertyville to Union Station, according to the website, a 10 ride ticket costs $67.50 and a one ride costs $6.75. So you save no money if you buy a 10 ride. Where’s the incentive to buy the 10 ride if there’s no cost savings?

3. High school students get a discount if you can provide a birth certificate or high school ID, what about college and university kids? I have no issues with military personnel getting a discount, but if seniors get a discount along with high schoolers, why not college kids? What criteria is used to make that policy? Are we suggesting university students have more disposal income than high school students or is it too hard to regulate regarding college kids.

4. When you have three university students (ages 20 and 21) that want to take the train from Libertyville to Union Station, two of whom are from Austria and prefer public transportation, it will cost $6.75 for each ride or $13.50 per person. The total fee would be over $40.00 for the three of them. Where’s the incentive? If you want more people taking the train, make it more convenient and less expensive. If you have to, discount fares after 9 or 10 am during weekdays to add some incentive to get more people using Metra.

5. Once you arrive in Union Station, you purchase a return ticket back to the ‘burbs for later that day and you luckily get a ride home from a friend so no need to use the return ticket so what then? You quickly realize the ticket is only good for 14 days from the time of purchase. Why? With such a low inflation rate, why couldn’t the ticket be valid for at least 3 to 6 months from the time of purchase? Does this policy have the potential to alienate riders who occasionally choose Metra to meet their transportation needs?