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Metra Steps Up Campaign To Spot Lax Fare Collectors

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Metra locomotive (CBS File Photo)

Metra locomotive (CBS File Photo)

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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.

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