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Rail News: Passenger Rail

Metra chairman calls for 'aggressive' plan to improve agency


Metra Chairman Brad O'Halloran announced on Wednesday a plan to roll back the price of 10-ride tickets, reform the Metra Police Department, leverage up to $1 billion in bonding authority for capital needs and take on other "major initiatives" to help advance the agency.

"Increased reliability, a renewed commitment to the safety and security of our riders, and a reinvestment in our infrastructure — these are the priorities in the days ahead," O'Halloran said in a prepared statement.

The chairman announced his plans, which will require the approval of Metra's board, following the resignation last month of Metra Chief Executive Officer Alex Clifford. At the time, O'Halloran said the "board believes it's critical that Metra move in a different direction."

O'Halloran said he would ask the board at its next meeting in August to restore the 10-ride ticket discount, which was eliminated in February.

He also announced Orland Park Police Chief and former Secret Service Agent Tim McCarthy agreed to lead a blue-ribbon panel to review reforms and recommendations to enhance the Metra Police Department and to help Metra find a new police chief. The current police chief plans to retire.

Other priorities announced by O'Halloran include: beginning work on a Wi-Fi pilot on the Rock Island line by year's end; accelerating onboard acceptance of credit cards; forming a task force with key leaders from Metra, BNSF Railway Co. and Union Pacific Railroad to address recent drops in on-time performance; and launching a new effort to spruce up Metra's "gateway" stations.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 7/12/2013