Friday, March 27, 2009

Metra should take credit cards -- a Senate bill would require just that

Yesterday Senator Michael Bond (D-Grayslake) and I held a press conference on his legislation that requires Metra to accept credit cards for fare payments.

I represent the Transit Riders' Alliance, a project of the Midwest High Speed Rail Association, and we enthusiastically support Senator Bond's bill. Hopefully Metra will just decide to start taking credit cards in the places where it immediately makes sense to do so. If not, we'll keep working to try to pass Senate Bill 577 into law.

There's a new service in the Illinois General Assembly's press room that offers a feed of press conferences. Here's the full, unedited C-SPAN-ish feed of the press conference.

And here is a story in the Daily Herald:

"The problem is fairly simple: they only accept check or cash," [Bond] said. "Metra is the second largest commuter train system in the country and happens to be the only one that doesn't take electronic payment."

Bond says checks are outdated and younger commuters today do not always carry checks or cash because they expect places to take debit or credit. The CTA currently takes credit cards as payment.

Judy Pardonnet, spokeswoman for Metra, said the agency is looking into the change to credit cards and said the procedure will be phased in.

Dan Johnson-Weinberger, representing the Transit Riders' Alliance, said many times people are unaware the trains don't accept credit and debit. "We believe there is some lost revenue from riders who would like to get on the train but because they don't carry a checkbook - and honest to God who does anymore? - and they don't happen to have cash on them, they can't buy," said Johnson-Weinberger.

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