The Chainlink

Ive looked through a few of the topics on this matter and thought I'd give my 2c from a different viewpoint, that toolbag from the kingdom of jerk off, a Metra conductor. Have 15 years in and it was oh so nice for the first 9 not to have to deal with this but as we all know, that ended a few years back and the geniuses at Metra who came with the plan as usual half assed it and left us , the operating employee, holding the bag for it. While they are at home every weekend, they leave it to us to enforce the policy, rules and regs that go along with being able to bring bikes on board, a policy that  to this day many riders have zero clue about the proper way of doing. Of course the people who read this forum dont fall into this category at all, you are all respectful and abide by what the conductor says every time you ride Im sure. Bikes in general are a pain to have on the train, whether or not there is room for them. To this day, my estimate is that 60% of the people STILL get on without a way to secure their bike to the bottom rail like theyre supposed to, then want to fight with me about letting them ride anyway. Main reason we are such sticklers for this? If for some reason that bike is unsecured and something happens where the train moves suddenly, derails, goes through a crossover, etc and it breaks loose and hits little Tommy sitting with his Mom across the aisle and hurts him, management and Tommys Mom arent going to come after you the bike rider. Nope, theyre going to come after me, the conductor and first thing theyre going to ask / tell me is why didnt you make sure those bikes were tied down? Boom, Im out of a job when Tommys Mom sues and Im not putting my families future at risk because some doofus doesnt carry around a bungee or chain. Next, relinquishing your seat or being asked to leave the train when the train becomes too crowded IS a possibility and a risk you take when you bring your bike on board. Ive had so many arguments over this its not even funny. People seem to think once theyre on, thats it and they cant be asked to leave when we need the space. Sorry, but we can do that and Im not making a family of 5 stand up for 30 plus miles just so you can bring your bike on. Next up, reaching max capacity . Certain trains can take up to 15 bikes but we dont have to take that many. If the bikes that are on board are clogging the aisle making walking by them unsafe, Im going to cut off the bikes right there and no more will be allowed to board. So when you try to get on halfway down the line and I tell you we're full, its my decision and its final. I usually get the "cmon man you can take 1 more" stance and Im not going to compromise the safety of the other passengers no matter how much people beg and plead. Youve all seen how crowded those trains are especially on weekends, and when I have to move 4 people from their seats when you get on 1 stop out of Ogilve / Union so you can bring your bike on, its a pain, I dont like my job to be a pain, I like it to run smooth. Bikes in general cause the train not to run so smooth because of all the baggage that goes along with it. Just keep that in mind next time you think the conductor is being a jerk to some rider about their bike. NONE and I mean none of the conductors I know like having them on board m we are being forced to do it because some dopes at the top thought it would be a good idea and forced it on us without really creating a way to make it palatable for us and for you the rider. For that I dont fault you I fault them but they leave us to clean up the mess . Thanks for reading, Flame away.

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There is a difference between anti-worker and thinking that if your job makes you so unhappy you need to complain about it on the internet you should just find a new one.

Steve Cohen said:

Well goody goody for you.  I have quit jobs too, that I didn't like.  But if you're trying to tell us that if can't keep a smile on your face the whole fricking day, you have a DUTY to quit your job, that's beyond stupid!  Some people don't like their jobs and DON'T have a choice.  Or maybe they like some parts of their jobs and not others.  Or maybe they can't afford the salary loss.

Geez, when did we become such an anti-worker society?


notoriousDUG said:

Everybody has a choice.

I changed careers several years ago because I was unhappy.  I did have to make lifestyle changes because I chose to be happy over a larger paycheck but there is always an option out there.

Steve Cohen said:

Oh, please, Zidaane.  What planet are you living on?  Plenty of people don't like their jobs, but have no choice if they want to make a living.

Zidaane said:

You either like your job or you don't. If you find yourself continually annoyed by your management, your customers or any type of change, then you might need to seek some other occupation.

The majority of conductors I've dealt with seem really happy with the job. 

Wow so much to reply to, so little time. I'll get back later to provide some responses, sorry for the delay but as you know theres a little something called the Taste of Chicago going on and last couple days have been really busy. I should just quit because the Taste makes me so unhappy too.

I was on the metra today and tried to look for you and introduce myself.

There's nothing nice about it. Organized bike advocacy had to fight for it for years, and it took the then Lt. Governor Quinn preparing a lawsuit against Metra to get them to finally cave.

"Nice" is what they have in other cities that have light commuter rail systems that actually accommodate bicycles and don't just endure them grudgingly, just enough of the time to meet the letter of the law.



Evan said:

It seems (to me) nice if they even let bikes on the train at all. Might even be considered a "bike friendly business". If you want to travel and not ride but bring your bike then, well, you might have to have a car (GASP!). I've had a car every day of my life since I was 16 and I'm now 51. So WAAHHH! frikin' WAAHH! I love biking and I'm totally hooked on cycle commuting but get serious, please.

+1 you read my mind Julie!  Isn't how it's handled in other countries?

Julie Hochstadter said:

whats the problem again with a bike only train car? That would solve so many problems right?

Wow what a simple and brilliant solution! 

Cameron 7.5 mi said:

Caltrain, which is very bike friendly and uses the same equipment as Metra would probably be the best example to follow. They've taken some seats out of the lower level of some cars and replaced them with bike racks. The bike cars are always the same position in the train, and the platforms are marked so that cyclists wait near where the bike car will open.



Steve Cohen said:

Granted that the Metra program is poorly conceived.  What would a well-conceived bike program for Metra look like?

I was just out in Portland, OR last month (bike heaven).  They seem to have an answer for all these problems though it's hard to see how some of their solutions could be retrofitted to existing Metra cars.

things can always be better, and things can always be worse. just decided to ride to Crown Brewing tomorrow and was reminded that on the South Shore Line, "BICYCLES ARE PROHIBITED (except if disassembled and carried on board in a bag or container expressly designed for such purposes and stowed in the overhead luggage racks)".

Except that this would require Metra actually, you know, communicating with their customers (by marking the platforms)....

Frankly, Metra management reminds me of one of those indie gyms or kid's play places (like BounceTown or whatever).  They seem to think that you can just open the business and then ignore it and it will still be successful.  My boss and I handle quite a few vendor relationships at work and we both ride BNSF.  It's come up several times that, if they were a vendor that we could actually pick, Metra would have lost the business a long time ago.  Regional monopolies are the best monopolies!

April 5.3 mi said:

Wow what a simple and brilliant solution! 

Cameron 7.5 mi said:

Caltrain, which is very bike friendly and uses the same equipment as Metra would probably be the best example to follow. They've taken some seats out of the lower level of some cars and replaced them with bike racks. The bike cars are always the same position in the train, and the platforms are marked so that cyclists wait near where the bike car will open.



Steve Cohen said:

Granted that the Metra program is poorly conceived.  What would a well-conceived bike program for Metra look like?

I was just out in Portland, OR last month (bike heaven).  They seem to have an answer for all these problems though it's hard to see how some of their solutions could be retrofitted to existing Metra cars.

Sorry, notoriousDUG.  If you are unhappy enough in your job to want to quit and IF YOU CAN FIND SOMETHING BETTER for yourself, maybe you should give it a go.  But if not, this is still a free country and there's nothing wrong with complaining about it on the internet, joining a union, or whatever floats your boat as long as you're not doing something abusive.  

Since you don't actually know the person complaining on the internet, your comment is nothing but elitist cant.  Free advice costs nothing and it's worth every penny.


notoriousDUG said:

There is a difference between anti-worker and thinking that if your job makes you so unhappy you need to complain about it on the internet you should just find a new one.

Steve Cohen said:

Well goody goody for you.  I have quit jobs too, that I didn't like.  But if you're trying to tell us that if can't keep a smile on your face the whole fricking day, you have a DUTY to quit your job, that's beyond stupid!  Some people don't like their jobs and DON'T have a choice.  Or maybe they like some parts of their jobs and not others.  Or maybe they can't afford the salary loss.

Geez, when did we become such an anti-worker society?


notoriousDUG said:

Everybody has a choice.

I changed careers several years ago because I was unhappy.  I did have to make lifestyle changes because I chose to be happy over a larger paycheck but there is always an option out there.

Steve Cohen said:

Oh, please, Zidaane.  What planet are you living on?  Plenty of people don't like their jobs, but have no choice if they want to make a living.

Zidaane said:

You either like your job or you don't. If you find yourself continually annoyed by your management, your customers or any type of change, then you might need to seek some other occupation.

The majority of conductors I've dealt with seem really happy with the job. 

Hey, Steve Taylor, are you the conductor who's a cyclist himself and once noticed and commented on the Arkel Briefcase pannier that I was carrying on Metra as an ordinary passenger?

I'm interested in whether or not the DIVVY system affects the number of bikes on Metra. Perhaps a discussion next summer on this?

I don't really see what the big deal is in segregating some areas for bicycles.  How hard in the modern world could it be to design spaces for bikes?  I do understand the challenges of an overpacked train heading for Ravinia - but surely it would be easy enough to conduct a needs assessment and build something for bikes that don't get in the way of passengers?  Look at the buses in Chicago - they can accommodate 2 bikes per bus, and they are relatively easy to get on and off.  I have  not studied this issue and therefore admit to my own ignorance about it, but surely it would be easy enough to add a bunch of clasping hooks to the edge of trains that bikes could just be placed on by biking passengers (like the ones we use when we carry our bikes on the back of our cars, but more user friendly so that train schedules aren't seriously  impacted) - say 4 bikes per carriage?   Again, as we say in England, "I dunno," but surely this is a really easy problem to solve and all it takes is a bit of imagination.   I bet bikers who go on trains would even pay an extra train fee if necessary that could help finance the cost of the construction!

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