There are new fare collection procedures on Union Pacific Metra lines now in effect. Here are details from Union Pacific:
Effective Monday, Oct. 5, Chicago commuters riding the UP North, Northwest and West Metra lines must show a valid ticket when boarding an outbound train or upon arrival at Ogilvie Transportation Center (OTC). Union Pacific employees positioned behind protective, plexiglass booths will verify fares as commuters enter or leave train platforms, similar to how the railroad managed large event crowds in the past. The process increases fare collection, while helping keep Union Pacific employees and Chicago commuters safe and healthy as the world continues to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Sadly, Union Pacific experienced the tragic loss of two employees when two ticket agents passed away earlier this year,” said Union Pacific’s General Superintendent of Commuter Operations Benita Gibson. “What we know about COVID-19 continues to change, and we have a responsibility to our employees and commuters to put their health and safety first.”
Commuters are asked to have tickets or mobile devices ready to present, allowing them to efficiently move past verification booths, particularly with low ridership around 10% of pre-pandemic levels. Fare evasion signs are posted, and violators can be fined or prosecuted under state law.
Ticket sales at OTC and outlying stations resumed Sept. 28; however, Union Pacific strongly encourages commuters to use the Ventra app, which is the safest and most efficient way to purchase a ticket as also recommended by the Regional Transportation Authority and Metra. Union Pacific conductors will continue to be stationed in the front and rear rail cars of the train, responsible for safety during boarding and de-boarding, operating doors and providing ADA assistance.
“Union Pacific bases its decisions related to COVID-19 on science, as well as CDC, state and local guidance designed to protect employee and commuter health,” said Union Pacific’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Laura Gillis. “The American Public Transportation Association recently acknowledged that managing proximity between riders and operators is key to protecting both from COVID-19 exposure. It further recommends installing physical separators, such as the protective plexiglass barriers our ticket verifiers are stationed behind, as an additional useful measure.”
Union Pacific is committed to ensuring that commuters feel safe and confident as they return to riding trains, and has repeatedly asked Metra to increase its police presence to address commuters’ safety concerns, as well as enforce ticketing and mask requirements. Responsibility for onboard passenger and public safety has been Metra’s responsibility for nearly three years. Union Pacific employees, like passengers who may observe inappropriate or unlawful behavior, are instructed to contact Metra Police who are trained and equipped to handle these situations.
While Union Pacific continues to negotiate with Metra on a transfer of services, its actions related to ticket sales and verification are strictly related to employee and commuter health and safety. The railroad will continue to re-evaluate its processes as more data becomes available and will make adjustments, as necessary.