Metra wants riders to 'commute with confidence' during COVID-19 pandemic; officials unveil safety initiative, deep cleaning procedures

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Metra is trying to bring commuters back by showing the deep cleaning and new safety protocols being done during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The rail agency launched their "My Metra" campaign that aims for its riders to "commute with confidence".



"Every night, every car, wherever it is parked, we have cleaners that go around and disinfect each car with backpacks," said Frank Rojas, Metra's Mechanical Director.

New signs will remind passengers that all riders and crews must wear face coverings on board.

"Our conductors will enforce and make sure they wear a mask," said Rojas. "We are also monitoring the passenger rider counts."

Train seating is also socially distance with one person to a seat unless travelling with a family member.

All railcars are equipped with hospital-grade filters to keep the air clean.

An upgrade cleaning system includes high pressure power washers, steamers and disinfectant.
Metra CEO Jim Derwinski said his team is doing everything they can to ensure the more than 1,000 railcars are deep cleaned and ready for commuters.

"The commute had to change so we made a lot of changes internally on the car, the experience of the passenger, making sure it's safe," said Derwinski.

Before the pandemic, an average of more than 181,000 riders would ride Metra on a given day, according to officials.

Metra is now operating at 10% ridership with just 25,000 passengers a day.

Right now Metra is getting by with its Cares Act Funding but that will run out next year if the agency doesn't increase passengers and revenue collected.
Derwinski said he does not expect a rise in ridership until students and downtown workers return.

"There is going to be some people that will work from home and everything has changed but there is going to be a lot of people now where there is now an empty seat waiting for them when the time is right for them," said Derwinski.

The 11 Metra lines and 242 stations are all part of the new initiative.

Metra said more trains will be added to the daily schedule as ridership increases.
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