On Indoor Dining Ban And The New Metra Schedule

It’s not because the indoor dining closer hurts Vlad; after all, his place is probably the least vulnerable of all in the city. But in general, I find it hard to agree with the governor on this particular measure. I truly believe (and he himself said it previously) that the infections spike comes mostly from the private gatherings (where nobody enforces anything!) rather than from indoor dining. And I think that the ban on indoor dining will make things worse because there will be more private gatherings, where nobody controls the number of people, mask-wearing and such.

Last week, a day before the governor banned indoor dining in the city, Metra announced that they increase the number of trains on our line, “adding more express trains and addressing the service gaps.” Which was good; as I mentioned earlier, as Metra enforces 1/4 of cars capacity, there were some days when I could hardly find a seat on a train on my way back from the city.

However, I was wondering – more people to the city and fewer places to have lunch? And just when the weather became colder! I was wondering what the situation will be at the train station in the city. I found it out on Saturday when I went for my clinic escort shift: the food court was open, and there were tables and chairs just as they were for the last several weeks: at 6+ feet distance, one chair per table. Which made me realize that the station has effectively become an indoor dining place, and it’s an option when I want to feed Igor 🙂

On the same note: on Saturday, I was leaving pretty early, and I had all intention to grab a coffee at the Palatine Train Station Starbucks. To my astonishment, they were closed, as we used to say, “without any declaration of the war.” It was a chilly morning, and I had to wait till I got to the city to get my first cup of coffee. The ad on the door said: temporarily closed, sorry for the inconvenience, with no reason provided.

I was wondering how long it is going to last, but last night when I checked the Starbucks app, I found that not only this location is open again, but moreover, they now operate insane hours: from 4-30 AM to 8 PM on workdays (Friday till 8-30), from 5-30 AM on Saturdays and from 6 AM on Sundays. Which again signals that the station will be effectively the indoor dining place.

We shall see. Vlad hopes that the ban won’t last long, and I hope the same.

Metra Sues UP

Remember this post about fees-not-being collected on our Metra Line? Turned out, this happened due to a very peculiar situation – see this article. Although the lawsuit was filed more than a week ago, the situation with fare collection didn’t change.

Copying the article from the Metra website, because it might disappear later.

Continue reading “Metra Sues UP”

Transit News

Last Thursday, both on my way to work and back, the train conductor announced multiple times that they would start checking the tickets on Monday.

Since the beginning of the lockdown, conductors stopped checking the tickets, although in the beginning, they were still going through the trains. And then they stopped completely. Tickets were on sale, and I purchased my monthly all that time. But everybody knew that tickets were not checked.

Although it was announced multiple times on the previous days, and on the train this morning, it turned out there were plenty of people who didn’t get the message, quite literally!

As I learned later from the brief conversation with one of the attendants, today was the first day Metra staff was back on the job. I didn’t connect it in the morning when I saw that Palatine train station was finally open. I was hoping they will open soon because it was getting colder every day, and they finally did. But it was a part of one big “back to work” thing. So my hypothesis that they didn’t realize how many people are commuting.

They still didn’t have conductors walking the trains, that the idea was that they would check the tickets before boarding at after getting off the trains at Ogilvie. To make things easier:), they closed a couple of exits.

And so that’s how it looked! As I said, many people didn’t get the message, so they stood at the bottom of the stairs trying either to find their ticket on the app or to buy it.

Hello, six feet apart!

In the morning, I was hoping that they won’t do it again tomorrow. In reality, nobody was checking at the platform when I was boarding the train back. We’ll see what will happen tomorrow morning 🙂

Office Days

I know that many people are afraid to take public transportation these days. I didn’t take CTA yet, and I can’t judge how safe it is, but I am 100% comfortable taking Metra.

People go to work in the city, maybe, ten percent of those who used to go to the city before the pandemic, but the trains are not ghostly. The schedule is reduced, and when I started to go to the office regularly, I realized that this presents some challenges. One is that I can’t be late for the 7-24 train. It used to be “my” train, and I am glad it survived, but previously I could take 7-51 express if I was late for 7-24, and now there is no such an option (which results in lots of Starbucks breakfasts!). I have to say there is something good in having fewer options, too, because it makes me more organized.

I always thought of myself being very well organized and working from home just fine, but after being forced to work from home for months, it required some effort to get out of the house on time. Through these past months, I felt that I am accomplishing less at home, but only now I realized how much time I am wasting for nothing when I do not have my usual morning checkpoints.
In short – I am happy to be back to commuter train.

That’s how the train car looks like these days. The conductors flip the sears so that it’s always one person per four seats, so I have a luxury to always sit by the window, always having an electric outlet, always facing the direction of travel, and always having room for bags. What am I going to do when it is all over?!

By the way, it is also plenty of parking space at the station these days, so you do not need to rush to be able to park at the convenient spot.

Continue reading “Office Days”

Igor’s Article and Metra’s Reaction

Last week, Igor’s article about the measures which Metra is going to take to reduce the number of fare evasions, was published in Streetblog Chicago.

I liked the article (and hopefully you will like it, too) but what is more interesting – somebody else enjoyed it as well!

Igor and his editor received an email from the Metrarail representative, who said:

Igor’s article about our fare issues was the most accurate and thorough job of any reporter who wrote about this. We appreciate Streetsblog spending the time and devoting the space to putting everything in context and explaining the pros and cons.

Pretty cool, right?!

A Short Stopover in Helsinki

Helsinki is most definitely not on the way to Cyprus – for anybody except me! This time, Boris and I agreed that I will come to Helsinki, and then we fly to Cyprus together. That was another reason I worried a little bit about the flight delay – our flight to Cyprus was at 7-20 AM the next day.

But as I said, everything got resolved. For a long time, I was suspicious about Icelandair initially, but now I like their flights – they are the shortest since they pass the Atlantic closest to the North Pole, and their connections are also quick. And now that I know they do not serve hot meals on board, I am OK with that :). Even this time, with three hours delay, I got to Helsinki at a reasonable time.
I love the new airport transit in Helsinki, especially since I installed the Helsinki Public Transit app :). Now I can buy my ticket on my phone and do not waste time at the station.

You can enter the station straight from the terminal
The trains operate every 5-10 minutes

The same ticket will be good for the train to get me home!