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Metra installing mobile-device charging stations in downtown Chicago

Metra began installing free charging stations for passengers' electronic mobile devices at four downtown Chicago rail stations, the commuter railroad announced yesterday.

Charging stations were installed at Millennium Station last week. Installation at the Van Buren Street and LaSalle Street stations and at the Ogilvie Transportation Center is expected to be completed next month, Metra officials said in a press release.

Metra also has plans to install the charging stations at Chicago Union Station in the ticketing area.

Riders can use the stations to charge smartphones, tablets and laptops.

"We've heard from our customers that charging stations would be a useful amenity for people waiting for trains and we stepped up to the plate and got it done," said Metra Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer Don Orseno. "Our goal is to convince more drivers that Metra offers a safe, efficient travel option that enables commuters to access the technology they want and deserve."

The Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development at DePaul University found in a recent study that more than three times as many Metra riders are performing electronic tasks such as texting and reading emails on phones today compared with five years ago. Less than 14 percent of riders were performing such tasks in 2010, compared with 44 percent this year, Metra officials said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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