Amusing comparisons: CTA beats Metra by miles
I am greatly amused that the Tribune's Page 1 story on Monday took Metra to task for being stuck in the 20th century -- and in many cases used the CTA as an example of how a transit agency should be run. Some of that amusement comes from the fact that many Metra riders look at the CTA with such great disdain.
Here were some areas of comparisons:
- Use of paper tickets.
Metra conductors still sell and check paper tickets, though regulars can buy monthly and weekly ride passes and 10-ride tickets. The CTA employs smart cards and makes rail customers buy transit cards. It stopped selling paper transfers years ago, and riders can only pay cash directly on buses. There are no train conductors, other than the motorman.
- Credit cards.
Metra only allows riders to pay with cash or check. The CTA accepts credit and debit cards, and recently added special vending machines accepting both cards. It also allows the smart cards to be tied to debit and credit cards.
- GPS tracking.
Metra uses GPS systems to track trains, and puts service alerts on its Web site. It's slated to put a train tracker on its Web site later this year. The CTA has Bus Tracker on more than half its buses, and is rolling out ad-sponsored big screen technology at rail stations this year.
- Web site.
"The Metra Web site looks like an old paper [railroad] schedule posted on the Web," one transit expert told the Trib. The CTA debuted a much-improved Web site in December. It includes RSS feeds for status alerts continues to add new services, such as Bus Tracker route service alerts.
Finally, the story mentions Metra seat hogs, lack free wireless access, the demise of the bar cars and fewer on-board bathrooms.
Well, no one ever said the CTA was perfect!