The Chainlink

Metra refitting cars, but not adding any bike amenities

New passenger amenities
What will passengers notice when they board a new car? They might notice a new-car smell, not too different from that of a new automobile. The new amenities include:

  • Doors now have sensitive edges, like elevators doors, so they will retract if they come in contact with a person or object in the way.
  • Four new LED signs per car will assist all passengers, but especially passengers with hearing disabilities, with location announcements.
  • New toilets and bathrooms
  • New wheelchair lifts
  • New composite floors and new seats that meet the latest safety regulations

And then there are the electrical outlets. There are 19 of them spaced throughout the seating area on the lower level of the car to power all those phones, computers, iPods, iPads and other gadgets that none of us can live without any more.

Metra will be refitting many of its 1990s era train cars with new seats and electrical outlets, but not among the changes is a better system for bike storage.  

Vertical bike system are a much more efficient way to store bikes on commuter trains.  They allow for bikes to be taken on and off at various stops without blocking or jumbling up with other cyclists.  A diagonal system like the one below would allow for many bikes in a small space and still leaving a clear aisle for other passengers.  It would be beneficial for metra to help them control the number of bikes on the train, allow for easier loading and unloading, and to limit the disturbance to other passengers.  

Its disappointing that metra continues to neglect the growing number of cyclist on trains.  Every time I have ridden a non rush hour train in the last year, I have seen many cyclists on the train.  

Between new CTA and refurbished Metra cars not including any bike accommodations, Chicago will continue to lag behind other cities in terms of bike friendliness.  

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Disappointing news, but not at all surprising.  It seems like it'd take quite a bit more money to install those bike storage pods than it would to install some sort of rack system on the outside of the trains, in the vein of the ones you see on the CTA buses.  I may be wrong (I don't ride Metra, or trains in general much) but it seems like trains would be a near perfect means in which to utilize an outdoor rack system because there is a considerable amount of clearance usually on both sides of the train.  Wonder if anyone has tried something similar.  


I can't add anything to this but +1

Daniel G said:

Disappointing but not surprising news. If they want to continue to work against bicycle commuters instead of with them, they will probably be doing so at their own cost anyway. Maintaining their mildly antagonistic position will only assure that conductors and bikers keep tripping all over each other in fear and hostility. But my god, power outlets finally. Of course Amtrak would get them before the busiest commuter rail service in the country outside of Nyc. Infrastructure in the US is being dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century mid-late twentieth century.

Thanks for sharing Liz. I am also disappointed. There are so many people that do the bike/train commute now, it's hard to imagine they can continue to ignore this growing number of commuters. Buying a monthly pass doesn't guarantee you a spot on the train and more people are denied entry with their bikes because of the increased popularity combined with an arbitrary limit Metra came up with (a handicapped car can fit 9-10 bikes and officially, they only allow 4-5). I've been on other lines that will only allow 2 bikes per car.

It would be ideal to create dedicated cars so that bikes could get on one car and not have to run to the next car if the one you're waiting for is full. The vertical racks make perfect sense and don't look too terribly expensive to implement. Awareness events such as Critical Mass and Ride your bike to work week are great at getting the word out and raising awareness but regular bike/train commuters dread those days because the increased ridership usually means commuters will be denied entry because of capacity challenges. Metra conductors seem surprised on those days rather than being prepared to handle the increased capacity. 

Most of the time Metra allows more bikes than the posted limit.  If they were to put in fixed racks for bikes then it might not actually increase capacity.   I'm not sure how many you could fit in without removing seats.  Also, if there was a set number you might see them limiting bikes after those racks are filled up.  Right now they seem to be pretty lenient on how many they fit in.

Luckily the train is so busy becaise of a seal concert at ravinia thqt they can't charge us any money. So metra loses all this money by overcrowding their trains and kicking off cyclists. The conductor said he was told he could tie it up but wouldnt


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