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Metra Begins New Crackdown On Lax Fare Collection

Metra locomotive (CBS File Photo)

Metra locomotive (CBS File Photo)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — Some Metra crews are taking aggressive new steps to make sure everyone pays their fares.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Roberts and Craig Dellimore report, Metra has been stung by recent criticism that some Metra conductors have been lax about fare collection. This has prompted a crackdown.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Roberts reports

In a new wrinkle last week, Metra conductors on at least two evenings stood at opposite ends of cars and re-checked everyone’s tickets on certain BNSF line trains between Naperville station, where the ‘F’ zone ends, and the Route 59 station, where the ‘G’ zone begins.

Those who tried to ride beyond Naperville on an “F” ticket were charged the extra fare.

It’s an approach that pleases Metra Deputy Executive Director George Hardwidge.

“Now it’s not something we do every day,” he said. “We do it in response to what our conductors tell us, what our customers tell us and what we find through our own management investigations when we think it needs to be done.”

Metra chief executive officer Alex Clifford said the message is simple — buy a ticket, and make sure it’s the right zone for your station.

“Based on the messages that I am seeing and also those staff that we have assigned to do those undercover investigations, we’ve turned the page on that and things are getting better,” Clifford said.

Complaints about lax fare collection on Metra trains go back to August. At that time, Clifford said he would use undercover riders to check on conductors.