CHICAGO (WLS) -- Metra Union Pacific trains are requiring ticket verification starting Monday, after being able to ride for free during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The booths are now set up and commuters, will now have to show their tickets on and off the trains.
Commuters on the UP North, Northwest, and West lines must now show a valid ticket at Ogilvie Transportation Center.
"I think they need to get their money," said Metra passenger Kim Adler. "I don't want another raise when, you know next year"
Metra police were on hand helping make sure the process goes smoothly.
Protective booths are now set-up and Union Pacific employees will be positioned there checking passenger fares. It comes as no surprise to many.
"They made the announcement a couple of times throughout the past two weeks and they warned us, 'hey you should have your tickets ready,'" said Metra passenger Tamia Phifer. "I've always had it just in case they did anyway."
Commuters are being asked to have their tickets in hand, or on their phones - making the process contactless, and much safer for both the passengers and transportation employees.
"We are still trying to operate during a pandemic and the pandemic as we all know is far from over," said Union Pacific spokesperson Kristin South. "We are using an abundance of caution. We tragically lost two employees during the pandemic, so that's always going to be in our mind as we look at the future and we look at brining our employees back to work and keeping them safe, but also the commuters safe. That has got to be our first priority and it will continue to be."
Up to this point, Union Pacific, which operates the lines, did not feel it was safe to send conductors back into the train aisles to check and punch tickets during this pandemic. That has reportedly cost a million dollars a month in lost revenue.
Metra stopped validating tickets too, but resumed the practice in June.
Metra and UP operate under a service agreement and have been in negotiations since last year to either extend the contract or operate under a new one.