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UP announces new fare collection rules on its Metra lines


Effective today, Chicago commuters riding the Union Pacific North, Northwest and West Metra lines must show a valid ticket when boarding an outbound train or upon arrival at Ogilvie Transportation Center.

Union Pacific Railroad employees behind protective, plexiglass booths will verify fares as commuter enter or leave train platforms, similar to how the railroad managed large event crowds in the past, UP officials said in a press release.

The process increases fare collection, while helping keep UP employees and Chicago commuters safe and healthy as the world continues to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ticket sales at the Ogilvie center and outlying stations resumed Sept. 28, however UP is encouraging commuters to use the Ventra mobile application, which is a safer way to purchase a ticket as recommended by the Regional Transportation Authority and Metra.

UP conductors will be stationed in the front and rear rail cars of the train, responsible for safety during boarding and de-boarding, operating doors and providing ADA assistance.

UP has repeatedly asked Metra to increase its police presence to address commuters' safety concerns, as well as enforce ticketing and mask requirements. Responsibility for onboard passenger and public safety has been Metra's responsibility for three years, UP officials said. 

UP employees and passengers who observe inappropriate or unlawful behavior are instructed to contact Metra police.

While UP continues to negotiate with Metra the transfer of services on the UP-owned rail lines on which Metra trains operate, UP's actions related to ticket sales and verification are related to employee and commuter health and safety, UP officials said.

"Sadly, UP experienced the tragic loss of two employees when two ticket agents passed away earlier this year," said UP General Superintendent of Commuter Operations Benita Gibson. "What we know about COVID-19 continues to change, and we have a responsibility to our employees and commuters to put their health and safety first." 

Metra and UP have been at odds over fare collection since June, when UP declined to allow conductors into the aisles to verify tickets purchased on its three Metra lines, citing coronavirus safety concerns, the Chicago Tribune reported. That essentially led to a no-fare policy, which has been costing Metra about $1 million a month in lost ticket revenue, Metra has said.


Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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