CHICAGO (CBS) — With the State of Illinois moving to Phase 3 of its partial reopening plans on Friday, and the City of Chicago following suit next week, Metra on Thursday announced its plans to maintain passenger safety amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“We know more than ever that passengers need to feel safe and confident using our service,” said Metra Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director Jim Derwinski said in a news release. “We know more than ever the importance of providing a clean, hygienic experience on the platforms and on the trains. And we know more than ever the need to promote safe and healthy practices, such as social distancing and wearing face coverings.”
Metra said it will provide an opportunity for social distancing on trains as long as possible – with an aim and keeping trains no more than half full. The plan is to seat one passenger per two-seater on the lower level of each double-decker train, and one passenger for every other seat on the upper level.
There will be exceptions for families traveling together.
Metra will also continue the alternate weekday schedules that have been in place as June begins, but will add cars to make sure there is room for passengers to spread out.
If Metra suspects a train will become crowded, it will try to put an unscheduled train into service behind it.
On weekends, Metra will still operate Sunday schedules on both Saturdays and Sundays, and there will be no Saturday trains on the SouthWest Service line.
Metra will resume accepting cash fares at ticket windows on Monday, June 1, but it still encourages passengers to buy tickets with the Ventra app so as to limit interactions between crews and passengers.
The $10 All-Day Pass will give passengers a “Touch Less, Pay Less” option to ride trains both safely and affordably. Buying a ticket from a conductor on a train will cost an additional $5, and starting immediately, Metra will no longer accept checks on trains.
Doctors, nurses, emergency medical technicians, paramedics, and other medical personnel will also ride free on Metra at least through June.
Metra has been deep-cleaning its more than 1,000 rail cars over the last few months, and has been examining best practices and new cleaning methods.
Metra continues to clean and disinfect all high-touch areas as frequently as possible at least once a day – including seats, seat handles, armrests, door handles, handrails, vestibule posts, and handholds. Toilets and toilet areas get the same treatment.
Metra also continues to clean and disinfect stations multiple times a week, with special attention for high-touch areas.