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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No it was the individual Railroads and their Conductors who had to deal with young DRUNKS and USERS.  Bikes didn't fit with a VERY crowded train car nor lines while the rent-a-cop searched for contraband items...



Jared said:

I doubt the Taste organizers requested a bike or alcohol ban. 

ditto.  I used old Mixte's that the thievesknow are less sale-able, esp to their VAN mgr for group thefts.

Adam "Cezar" Jenkins said:

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.

I've known a lot of people who have done that in recent years.  Unfortunately it results in a lot of clogged bike racks on nights and weekends.  I'm looking forward to having bike share as an option on the downtown end of my trip.

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.
Folding bike = no restriction. Rode a Dahon Speed TR last weekend and that was SWEEEEEET!

This seems a good thread to ask this question.  I just rode to Lake Geneva with a friend and we were both planning on using the metra to get back to Chicago with our bikes today, but apparently it's a blackout day (not sure what for).  My friend had to get back to Chicago for work, so he went ahead and I am still here in Lake Geneva with both bikes.  I can easily stay here tonight and get a ride to the Harvard station tomorrow assuming that tomorrow isn't another surprise blackout day, but will they let me bring two bikes on?

It's a blackout for the last day of Taste of Chicago today.  No blackout tomorrow outside of rush hour.

Timothy Hager said:

This seems a good thread to ask this question.  I just rode to Lake Geneva with a friend and we were both planning on using the metra to get back to Chicago with our bikes today, but apparently it's a blackout day (not sure what for).  My friend had to get back to Chicago for work, so he went ahead and I am still here in Lake Geneva with both bikes.  I can easily stay here tonight and get a ride to the Harvard station tomorrow assuming that tomorrow isn't another surprise blackout day, but will they let me bring two bikes on?

Good question. I would assume if you explained why you have 2 bikes they should let you on. There was a blackout due to the taste of chicago. Annoying but that's the reason.

Timothy Hager said:

This seems a good thread to ask this question.  I just rode to Lake Geneva with a friend and we were both planning on using the metra to get back to Chicago with our bikes today, but apparently it's a blackout day (not sure what for).  My friend had to get back to Chicago for work, so he went ahead and I am still here in Lake Geneva with both bikes.  I can easily stay here tonight and get a ride to the Harvard station tomorrow assuming that tomorrow isn't another surprise blackout day, but will they let me bring two bikes on?

Thanks for letting me post this on Grid Chicago, Adam. 

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