Tuesday, December 16, 2014

No Metra, Not Good News....

Well, Metra thinks they have a solution to the crowding that happens on the south side of Union Station when there are major service interruptions.. Where basically it ends up wall to wall people (funny how the north side of Union Station seems to have that problem a lot less frequently)...

At the end of the post is the e-mail Metra sent out today, the plan sounds nice but it does not address the fundamental cause of the crowding.

The cause of the crowding isn't fundamentally the delays (stay with me a minute here), it is Metra's inability to share information about the delays and when trains will arrive and be able to leave. Trust me at least this commuter and I suspect lots of others would love to wait out these situations at the office or even at a tavern outside of Union Station.

The problem is normally these situations are either revealed late (so you are already waiting with several hundred friends on a platform or in the station) so you become 'trapped in the mass'... The other common occurrence is that metra shares no information besides 'we have no idea' and the 'trains are here and ready to go' an experienced Metra commuter knows it is worth waiting with the mass since the situation can change so rapidly.

If Metra did a better job of providing information about the delay (such as expected length) and get news of the delay out I think fewer people would try and wait it out at the station.

Also just for reference when you read the item below, keep in mind the Great Hall (where Superman killed General Zod) is rented out for private events, so sometimes the best place to have people wait (large space) is unavailable. When that is the case the plan is to keep folks in the other areas is going to fail IMHO...

I wonder if Metra considered why people feel they need to wait at the station, because I really doubt anyone enjoys being stuck in a crowd like that.  People end up waiting at the station because they don't know there is an issue and because it for want of a better term works since the system tends to go from 'screwed with no information' to trains moving in about 10 minutes (tops).

Attention Chicago Union Station Customers 

Good news for users of Union Station: Metra today unveiled a proactive plan to help avoid overcrowded situations on the South Concourse and south platforms of Union Station.

"This plan will rely on the assistance of our passengers, and Metra, BNSF and Amtrak would like to thank them in advance for their cooperation in following this plan and the directions of personnel at Union Station," said Metra Executive Director/CEO Don Orseno.

The plan, which was drafted with the help of Amtrak and BNSF Railway, will be implemented as soon as Metra suspects that peak outbound service could be significantly disrupted on the three lines that use the South Concourse - primarily the BNSF Line but also the SouthWest Service and Heritage Corridor lines. (A flyer detailing the plan will be placed on those lines in the morning. It also is available on our website.)
If a disruption happens, Metra, BNSF and Amtrak personnel will restrict access to the South Concourse by controlling the flow of pedestrians so they can only enter that concourse from one location - the wide corridor that connects the concourse to the Great Hall waiting area and Metra ticketing area. The corridor will service as a loading/staging area where riders can queue until trains are ready to board, keeping the concourse clear so passengers can easily get to and from the train platforms. The goal is to create a safe and orderly wait for train service to resume.

If the Great Hall is open (Map 1), passengers will be encouraged to wait there. Metra will provide updates to riders with public address system announcements supplemented by staff members with bullhorns among the waiting passengers.

Access to the South Concourse primarily will be controlled by closing the main escalators/stairs that feed the concourse from the food court level. Passengers who use the Union Station entrance at Jackson and the Chicago River will have to walk north, use the escalators/stairs that feed the North Concourse and double back south past the Metra ticket area to the loading/staging area.

Riders who enter Union Station from Clinton/Adams and Clinton/Jackson will have to walk through the Great Hall to get to the staging area. If the Great Hall is closed, passengers will have to use a different entrance/path to the staging area, as shown on Map 2 of the flyer.

In the event of a disruption that is only affecting BNSF trains, SouthWest Service and Heritage Corridor passengers will be allowed to enter the South Concourse via the hallway that connects the South and North Concourses to the Amtrak ticket area, as shown on Map 3 of the flyer. BNSF riders will be directed to the staging area.

Metra requests that all riders please obey instructions from Metra, BNSF and Amtrak personnel and police.

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