The Chainlink

Metra's inconsistency makes me want to drive. I can't be the only one?

My family is car-lite. One car. I've been riding Metra for over a year to work and the city for whatnot. Something the entire time has stuck out at me.

I will preface the below with the understanding that I know it's getting better, but that it exists at all is a problem if you support a real workable public transit system.

That said. There's one thing above all others that makes me want to buy a second car and use it. Inconsistency. Let's start with what hits home with the chainlink the most. Bikes.

I can't trust Metra when it comes to bikes. I'm lucky to ride the Rock Island and not have a problem. The conductors are nice. This isn't true across the board though. There's always that idea in the back of my head that I could be denied on a conductor's choice.

I'm ok with the rush hour restrictions. Could they be better? Not having to wait till 7:40 to bring a bike back home. Yes, they could. It's not consistant though. Of course the taste brought this to mind. Bikes are not allowed on the Metra for over a week. If someone were reverse commuting and depended on their bike for the last mile? They are out of luck.

So what's the option? The distances are too great, so you drive. You buy a car and you drive.

Next, the catering to downtown events is ridiculous. Last night I had my bag searched getting on the train after my Python user group meeting. I had an empty glass growler. One I really liked. After arguing and realizing I'm a regular they let me carry it home, but it hammered down an important point. I can't trust taking the Metra. Unless I'm keeping close track of of whatever rules they are deciding to enforce this week. 

Except in very very rare cases, I can get on the CTA and expect the same rules day in and out. It's a real transportation system.

What it seems to come down to is that Metra puts a lot of restrictions into place catering to events to make their lives easier. They could have not have searched bags. They could have just enforced rules about unruliness on the trains, just like any other day.

It seems like Metra if for exactly two groups. Commuters obviously. Then tourists. It's not an alternative transportation system.

End rant. :)

All that said, the seats are really comfy.

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I'm curious- where do they put bikes on the Van Galder bus? I've ridden it before but never with a bike. Do they put them in the cargo area? Or do they have one of those rack thingies like on the cta? 

They stick 'em in the cargo area.  Its pretty convenient, no disassembly required.

Good to know! Thanks!

I had some fun with the additional "security" last night. I was 10 min early for the UP N line train, had my folder in a bag and was waiting for the door to open. A very large security guard, got in my face and said "NO BIKES-Do you hear what I am saying?"

I politely told him that my bike was a folder and in a bag and it welcome at all times on all Metra lines.

He again continued to ask me "Do you hear what I am saying?" I just got silent and looked straight ahead. He proceeded to tell me that it was not up to me about bringing a bike, it was the conductor's decision.

Of course when I got on the train first, put my bike out of the way next to the stairs on the restroom side of the car, the conductor punched my ticket. He didn't even blink about the folder.

Due to the rain the Taste crowd was smaller than expected on the UPN, there could have been 4-5 bikes in my car, as it was lightly filled. So no big deal for anyone except for the security guard who really would not leave me alone until I just started ignoring him.

A folder is really the only way to deal with all the inconsistency. The fact is that I don't really like to ride my folders- I prefer a normal sized bike.

clp said:

OP reads:

I'm ok with the rush hour restrictions....having to wait till 7:40 to bring a bike back home...If someone were reverse commuting and depended on their bike for the last mile...are out of luck.

 

Can't believe you're hassling with a bicycle just to ride a mile.  Why not just walk the mile?  Which would probably take you 20 minutes instead of the 5-10 that biking might.   So to save that 10-15 minutes you're dragging along your bike?

I think you misunderstand "last mile". It's a transportation term. See last mile on Wikipedia. For most people, it's most likely four to five miles.

And criticizing Metra just because they sometimes don't have room for your vehicle in their passenger car?  

The gist of my point is that I don't have an issue with rush hour restrictions. I have an issue with rules changing.

I use Metra a lot to go to different suburbs to play golf.  I never bring a bike; I've got my shoulder bag of clubs to deal with.  I think nothing of using Pace when I get off Metra, and then walking as much as 40minutes (2 miles each way) to the golf course.  It is normally a very pleasant country walk, away from city streets and traffic.

I had a similar experience with additional security at last year's Taste.  Unfortunately a clueless conductor was backing him up on the "no bikes" statement, even thought it was my folder.  I asked for a supervisor and wouldn't budge until he came.  He solved the problem, and I got on with my folder.

rb said:

I had some fun with the additional "security" last night. I was 10 min early for the UP N line train, had my folder in a bag and was waiting for the door to open. A very large security guard, got in my face and said "NO BIKES-Do you hear what I am saying?"

I politely told him that my bike was a folder and in a bag and it welcome at all times on all Metra lines.

He again continued to ask me "Do you hear what I am saying?" I just got silent and looked straight ahead. He proceeded to tell me that it was not up to me about bringing a bike, it was the conductor's decision.

Of course when I got on the train first, put my bike out of the way next to the stairs on the restroom side of the car, the conductor punched my ticket. He didn't even blink about the folder.

Due to the rain the Taste crowd was smaller than expected on the UPN, there could have been 4-5 bikes in my car, as it was lightly filled. So no big deal for anyone except for the security guard who really would not leave me alone until I just started ignoring him.

A folder is really the only way to deal with all the inconsistency. The fact is that I don't really like to ride my folders- I prefer a normal sized bike.

re: "I asked for a supervisor and wouldn't budge until he came"

I was planning on doing the same, if needed.

I was a bit afraid for my physical safety as this person was huge and seemed like he was trying to get a rise out of someone- so he would have an excuse to get physical.

I just looked forward, repeated 'Hear what you are saying" once or twice and avoided eye contact. He seemed to get bored and then left me alone.

Go fight some real crime Bully.



Anne Alt said:

I had a similar experience with additional security at last year's Taste.  Unfortunately a clueless conductor was backing him up on the "no bikes" statement, even thought it was my folder.  I asked for a supervisor and wouldn't budge until he came.  He solved the problem, and I got on with my folder.

rb said:

I had some fun with the additional "security" last night. I was 10 min early for the UP N line train, had my folder in a bag and was waiting for the door to open. A very large security guard, got in my face and said "NO BIKES-Do you hear what I am saying?"

I politely told him that my bike was a folder and in a bag and it welcome at all times on all Metra lines.

He again continued to ask me "Do you hear what I am saying?" I just got silent and looked straight ahead. He proceeded to tell me that it was not up to me about bringing a bike, it was the conductor's decision.

Of course when I got on the train first, put my bike out of the way next to the stairs on the restroom side of the car, the conductor punched my ticket. He didn't even blink about the folder.

Due to the rain the Taste crowd was smaller than expected on the UPN, there could have been 4-5 bikes in my car, as it was lightly filled. So no big deal for anyone except for the security guard who really would not leave me alone until I just started ignoring him.

A folder is really the only way to deal with all the inconsistency. The fact is that I don't really like to ride my folders- I prefer a normal sized bike.

Granted, the surface-area is stupendous, but? I can't get my head around the "growler" bit..

So, comrade, their warrantless, arrest-free search of your person/items turned up pernicious glassware?

Oh! The humanity!!! I can't believe you aren't in Guantanamo.

Barney Fife eat your heart out.

In a situation like that, I've sometimes felt the need to go to the ticket counter or station security office  (whichever I could find more easily) to ask for a supervisor.  The last thing I need is to get roughed up by a security thug.

I have followed up these situations in writing by sending a letter to Metra, including the time of the incident, description of the thug/security, train run number, and all details about what happened and how it was handled.  Of course, I send a copy to Active Transportation Alliance to keep them in the loop on how many times these problems happen.

rb said:

re: "I asked for a supervisor and wouldn't budge until he came"

I was planning on doing the same, if needed.

I was a bit afraid for my physical safety as this person was huge and seemed like he was trying to get a rise out of someone- so he would have an excuse to get physical.

buy 2 cheap bikes, stash one at either end of your train run. commute with no bike on the train. done and done.

re"buy 2 cheap bikes"

i do think that is a distinct possibility in my near future.

not a way that i would prefer to do things, but may do it.

That's how I do it. Of course the one on the home end isn't cheap, but that's because there i little theft in my town.

On the downtown side, I'm eagerly awaiting bike share.

Of course, my point is the rules being consistent, day by day.

bk (aka: Dr. Mambohead) said:

buy 2 cheap bikes, stash one at either end of your train run. commute with no bike on the train. done and done.

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