Metra Steps Up Campaign To Spot Lax Fare Collectors

CHICAGO (CBS) — Metra is stepping up its campaign to spot conductors who are lax about collecting fares.

The commuter rail agency is asking riders to turn in conductors who don’t do their jobs.

Undercover employees began looking for lazy conductors a month ago. But Metra CEO Alex Clifford said they have not spotted many, and he said he believes that any problem that exists is limited to a small number of conductors and collectors.

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Nonetheless, Metra this week will begin asking riders through new signs and flyers to keep their tickets or passes visible throughout their trip, to tell conductors when leaving the train if their fares have not been collected and to go online to the Metra Web site to report conductors who don’t check fares.

Conductors and collectors employed by Metra who fail to collect fares can face discipline up to and including termination.

Metra Chief Transportation Officer George Hardwidge said that conductors have been terminated in the past for lax fare collection, although he said terms of union contracts prevent him from being any more specific.

Complaints have focused on the Union Pacific North Line, whose conductors and collectors are UP employees, not Metra employees.

Although they are not subject to Metra discipline, Hardwidge said that both UP and the BNSF Ry. take such complaints seriously.

“They understand, as well as we do, the importance of this issue,” he said. “It’s not something that is being treated lightly.”

Hardwidge said that Metra does not consider it an infraction for conductors to fail to collect fares if the train is overcrowded and they cannot make it through a car.

  • BNSFAlwaysLate

    is it an infraction if they collect a fare even though the train hasn’t been on time for an entire week?

  • Gratefull one

    I hope it is not an infraction for a conductor/collector from giving a passenger a ‘pass’. My brother was takikng the train to see my dying father and he was running late so did not have time to stop at an ATM or to get a ticket prior to boarding. The very, very kind conductor let him pay what he had on him-which was about $2.00 shy of the full price. I would hope that the conductor would not have been punished for this act of kindness.

  • bluecrv

    A coworker of mine went downtown last week on the Electric….the conductor asked for tickets and then proceeded to walk through the car without checking any of them. The conductor spent most of his time chatting up a female passenger instead of doing his job. I told her she should report him but she opted to hope some of the other upset passengers in that car would do it . Metra needs spotters on the Electric badly because it appears most of the complaints I have heard about failed ticket taking happen on that line.

  • Bill S.

    Making this issue public should put union people on the defensive. It’s making all Metra employees out to being cheats. What other employer ‘outs’ their employee issues in public?

  • john

    I have never had any issues with the conductors on Metra and I ride it everyday. On our line (North Central) they always do a good job and are always friendly. Maybe METRA should look at the $275 hour consulatant they have.

    Also end the kids riide free program, if you are are going to raise the fares. At least charge a $1.00. Remember that the government cannot give something to someone which they dont take away from some one else.

    • Brian

      I don’t agree, when I rode the metra on a regular basis, from Cary, I was able to get a good 11 – 12 rides out of my 10 ride ticket. The ticket was always out and in plain site for the conductor to punch it.

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