Reporting Bob Roberts
The riders have spoken, and sales of Metra’s 10-ride ticket have fallen 18 percent since the discount was dropped in February.
Now, a top Metra official says the agency should bring back the discount.
Wednesday, speaking to the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) board, Metra Chairman Brad O’Halloran said that he would ask the Metra board at its next meeting, in August, to roll back the price of the ticket to pre-February levels, when the 10-ride ticket was sold for the price of nine rides.
Metra hoped to generate $8.3 million in new revenue from elimination of the discount, but O’Halloran said Metra has fallen far short of its goal.
The pledge was one of a series of “sweeteners” announced by O’Halloran in an attempt to win the support of restless riders.
“Our customers have to be number one,” O’Halloran said.
O’Halloran said his goal is “increased reliability, a renewed commitment to the safety and security of our riders and a reinvestment in our infrastructure.”
A series of previously-promised improvements will be placed on the fast track. Those include a task force to improve service reliability, use of $1 billion in bonding authority to fix equipment and infrastructure and provide cleaner stations and trains, a test of WiFi service on the Rock Island District with the eventual goal of installing WiFi on trains systemwide, an enhanced Train Tracker, coordination with the CTA and Pace to accept the Ventra fare card and obtaining the technology needed to allow payment of fares by any credit card at all stations and aboard all trains.
He also said that Orland Park Police Chief Tim McCarthy, best known as the U.S. Secret Service agent who took a bullet for then-President Ronald Reagan in 1981, would lead a blue-ribbon panel that will review proposed changes to Metra’s police department, and help Metra find a new chief.