Metra will begin operating an alternate weekday schedule on March 23, to adjust for the reduced number of riders due to school closures, work-from-home mandates and other consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, the company announced Thursday.
The reduced schedules are available online at metrarail.com.
Metra spokesman Michael Gillis said the schedule reduction is 58% as ridership is down to less than 15%.
“We do not want to strand anybody who relies on our service to get where they need to go,” Gillis said. “This is all in response to the coronavirus pandemic.”
Where Metra is able to, it will maintain the number of cars on trains to allow for social distancing.
On a line-by-line basis, Metra is monitoring ridership and may further reduce service to meet the ridership demands.
As to money Metra will lose during the COVID-19 pandemic, Gillis said, “We will look to federal and state money that might be available in response to this.”
Riders are encouraged to download the Ventra App to their phones, which allows them to buy tickets on their phones and display them on the phone, Gillis said.
“It’s like having a ticket vending machine on your phone,” Gillis said. “You get it from the App Store or Google Play. You register your credit card and buy tickets on your phone and not have any interaction with the conductor. Otherwise, you have to hand in cash for a paper ticket.”
Not every station has a ticket agent, but those that do are still staffed, Gillis said.
The reduced schedules will remain in effect until health officials deem the crisis has passed and/or ridership begins to return to normal.
Metra will operate on regular weekend schedules this weekend.
Source: The Daily Chronicle