Metra BNSF line denied me passage with my bike today, even though the website clearly states:
For 2011, bicycles are permitted on all weekday trains arriving in Chicago after 9:30 A.M. and leaving Chicago before 3:00 P.M. and after 7:00 P.M., and on all weekend trains, with the following exceptions:
The conductor said it was because of "an event," and I'm assuming he was referring to the Jazz Festival.
I'm extra upset because:
-it was pouring rain
-the car was not crowded and i would have been fine in the empty stairwell
-it was 25 minutes late
Has this ever happened to anyone else (Metra just deciding to ban bikes without telling anyone)? I commute to the burbs for a new job and I was assuming the bike bans were over for another year...
I do think they should have better signage at the stations and media attention during blackouts.
I agree with these comments below. I don't want to start a city vs. suburban thing; but on the whole; I have found that CTA employees are cooler about accommodating folks in general (bikes on busses, etc.)and METRA conducters really have an attitude towards city dwellers and cyclists in general. I have been hassled before because my bike was not 'secured properly' in the METRA car; only to show the trainman / conducter that I used a bungee cord to attach it to the seat rail. Once I forget the bungee and used a belt and the guy acted like he was doing me a huge favor by "letting the rule slide". c'mon guys...get a life. without making a sweeping generalization here : but judging by the looks of some
of those conducters; I sensed a little bit of some kind of attitude towards me for just trying to follow the rules.
Thunder Snow said:
On the whole, Metra does a pretty lousy job of communication, in general. They don't have a train tracker phone app, so it's impossible to know whether your train is running on time or is 20 minutes late, unless you're already on the platform straining to hear the garbled announcements. I've been unlucky enough to stand on the platform, only to have the train arrive on the opposite track because of track work--then I have to wait yet another hour and hope they haven't switched back to the normal track by then. The CTA usually has customer service reps on platforms when something unusual is happening--such as the northbound trains at Howard switching platforms for track work--but I've never seen a Metra customer rep or even the ticket seller from the station house on the platform directing passengers to the correct waiting spot. Riders aren't really on Metra's radar.
The one CTA ride I've had problems with was on the Blue Line. I got on with my bike, only to have the train operator scream and fume at me over the PA speakers, something about bikes not being allowed on cars with folding doors. I have no idea why, I had no problem getting my bike on. I just patiently stood in the train car holding my bike while she hollered at me, and the rest of the riders gave me the stink eye for holding up the works, but she finally gave up and pulled out of the station. I disembarked at the very next station. I'm still not sure if it's only the Blue Line that has this odd rule.
Thanks for the explanation, Cameron. My bike with panniers fit through the doors just fine, but whatever. I'll just be more selective the next time I try to use the Blue Line--hopefully every train has bike-usable cars and aren't all folding door type. Glad to hear it's a Blue Line specific issue only.
Last year I had a bad experience with Metra.
Folding bike with protective cover...
I agree that a lot of conductors do not want to "deal" with the hassle of people with bikes.
There is definately an attitude on the NW line.
Rail Line: up-nw
Origin: Mt. Prospect
Message: I have a folding bike and a protective cover for it. I was boarding the train at Mt. Prospect the weekend of Blues Fest. The conductor informed me that there were ;No Bikes allowed;. I had called the Friday before, and was told I would be able to travel with my folding bike with cover. He did kindly let me ride to my destination. But I want to be clear what the policy is on folding bikes on trains with protective covers is.
You are correct, small folding bikes in a protective cover do not fall under the Blues Fest ban. The conductor does have some discretion here; the policy says "Folding bicycles in protective covers are permitted on all trains at all times but should not block train aisles or doorways." But it doesn't
sound like you were doing that here. I'm forwarding your e-mail to UP so they can make sure their conductors know the rules.
Metra Media Relations
Thunder Snow said:
A folding bike in a bag NEVER gets refused, even on "bike blackout" Taste of Chicago days. I've never had any problem riding Metra with my Dahon, no matter how crowded the train is.
Lee Roy, it seems you got the one conductor who didn't get the memo: "16. Folding bicycles in protective covers are permitted on all trains at all times but should not block train aisles or doorways." Sorry for your hassle, glad you were still able to ride.
My favorite place to stash my bike on the UP North is in the space between the jump seats and the seat back of the rear bench seat, just beyond the bathroom and stairway up to the upper level. If that's not available, I usually can stuff the bike along the trash can at the end of the jump seats opposite the bathroom. If all else fails, both my bike and I can fit in the stairs in the vestibule opposite the door that opens; i.e., against the closed doors.
Meanwhile in other parts of the country, "Caltrain Now Has Two Bike Cars on Every Train" http://www.caltrain.com/Page845.aspx
Based on Caltrain's experience, I think demand drives this, and I think having a "bike station" like the one at Millennium Park would stoke demand. For example, reverse commuters could keep a bike secured there, then take it onto the train, get off in the suburbs and complete the commute to a suburban workplace. Myself, I'd take a bike from there to Federal Center, which I now transfer to the green/pink line @ Clinton to do - and not even necessarily put my bike on the train but the option would boost Metra ridership. Something between Ogilvie (which I use) and Union would be nice. Maybe one of the shops/stalls in the new Ogilvie MetraMarket could be a bike station that could also serve Milwaukee Street bike commuters.
Metra is like that no-good x-boyfriend who never seems to just go away and get out of your life. You can't depend on him to do anything much beneficial but keep showing up and crashing your party when you least expect him to.
For a bicyclist who needs to get from point A to point B Metra just isn't an option unless getting to point B wasn't really that important in the first place.