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Metra addressed new steps it is taking as the Chicago area prepares to enter Phase 3 of Gov. JB Pritzker's Restore Illinois plan.
In a news release Thursday, Metra said it will try to adhere to social distancing guidelines. Metra aims to run trains no more than half full, suggesting one passenger per two-seater on the lower level and every-other-seat distance kept between passengers seated on the upper level, with exceptions for families.
Other steps such as adding railcars to allow for more space between passengers, asking passengers to wear face masks, running extra unscheduled trains behind scheduled ones if heavier crowds are expected and other precautions are being put in place. Metra did note that Saturday trains on the Southwest Service will remain suspended until further notice.
Metra said in the release that deep cleaning and sanitation has been frequent over the last few months, focusing on high-touch areas, and that it also intends to install hand sanitizer dispensers in all cars.
“We will continue to monitor and adapt our cleaning protocols as necessary, always looking for the best way to provide the safest, healthiest ride possible to our passengers,” Metra CEO/Executive Director Jim Derwinski said. “Safety always has been and always will be our top priority.”
In order to further reduce close contact, Metra encouraged passengers to continue to buy tickets on the Ventra cell phone app, but on June 1, the resumption of $10 cash purchase passes begins, although cash purchases made on the train with cash will go up to $15. Checks will not be allowed.
Metra will also continue to support doctors, nurses, EMTs, paramedics and other medical personnel by allowing them to ride free on Metra trains at least through June.