Transportation security measures continue Monday

May 21, 2012 (CHICAGO)

Some Metra and South Shore riders had to deal with tough security on their way to work with airport-like screenings and baggage checks.

It's been a busy day on Metra today for both passengers and law enforcement, but with fewer riders than usual, things have been moving smoothly.

On the South Shore Line at the Hegewisch Station every train and every passenger is being checked.

"We're working 90 police officers from 17 northwest Indiana police departments," said Chief Robert Byrd of NICTD Transit Police. "We have K9 bomb dogs from our department, the CSX railroad police department and the TSA. Those 3 dogs are sweeping the trains before people board them."

As trains come in from Indiana, passengers exiting have their belongings checked and then move onto the train heading downtown.

Bomb-sniffing dogs then go through the now empty train and search in, out and even underneath for anything suspicious.

After the checks, the trains are ready to travel.

With a lot fewer commuters than usual, it's been an easy task so far.

"Ridership is down but that was an option people had to not ride the trains to avoid the delays with these sweeps," Byrd said.

Metra put new rules in place during the NATO summit for all passengers.

No bags over 15 inches are allowed, no food, no liquids, no tools or weapons and everyone is subject to a search.

Some lines will be closed entirely around McCormick Place.

Downtown riders Ray Collins and Michael Barren knew about the long list of security restrictions, and prepared.

"You know you want to bring stuff like a laptop, but you can't have any bags so it's messing up the daily routine," said Collins.

"I don't want to be checked, that's all," Barren said.

Brenda Smith headed into downtown from the South Side on the Metra Electric and said it was smooth sailing.

"What was the ride like? Easy, nice, just got searched, open your purse," she said.

She did forget to dispose of her sanitizing hand gel, so officers took that away.

Transit police, secret service, and the K9 units plan to check all of the trains coming outbound from downtown later Monday, as well.

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