Dear Metra Bigwigs and People Who Make Things Happen,
I have seen you administer surveys, ask questions, and make promises that you have yet to follow through on. In my commuter lifetime, I’ve been a regular on two different Metra rail lines. Both have their pros compared to the other, and both have their cons. But there ARE a few common traits that can be improved upon easily and with little cost. Let me solve your problems.
Notification of delays
All you need is a two-way radio on every train (don’t tell me you dont communicate with the main station via radio. And if not, there’s this little invention called a cellular phone that offers easy communication between two people) to regularly update the station as to the delays and estimated arrival times. Then have a person (Hell. You can even have two because there are hundreds of thousands of people looking for work and a couple salaries wouldn’t seem to break the bank considering the number of daily riders on this train I’m currently writing from) to relay this information in writing to the digital platforms you’ve already set up.
Keep the website notifications up to date. You can update the site every 10 minutes; people would be appreciative and might not bitch at or about you quite so much. Checking a notice that was written 25 minutes ago and says tour train will arrive 10 minutes ago when it hasn’t is worthless.
Send e-mails promptly. Most people have to leave for their train 10 to 45 minutes before departure. If there’s a problem that you know about, srnd the e-mail immediately. We signed up for this service for a reason. Help make it worth our while. If I get an e-mail about the delay when I’m already on the train, it was ineffective for me and is likely ineffective for the person at the next stop, 2 minutes away.
Bathroom Cleanliness and Operation
While I’m here, I figured it would be helpful to discuss one of the ongoing problems I’ve noticed. I don’t know how I always seem to need to use the bathroom when there is not one functional bathroom on the train, but it’s true. I know that it’s mostly drunk assholes late at night l, and your staff didn’t clog up the toilet or leave it spraying water from 3 directions (yes, I’ve witnessed this), but the train was hanging out at the station for 25 to 35 minutes prior to departure…would it kill you to hire a cleaning crew between trains (at least the non-commuter trains that operate every hour or 90 minutes)?
I’ll stop here. This is enough to fix for one day.
TL;DR: Hire 2 to 5 people to send notifications and alerts. Hire 10 to 15 people to clean local trains while they’re stopped at the station.
Just another commuter.
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