Metra is about to buy some new railcars, and it wants the input of its customers in an online survey to order them.
Metra issued a request for proposals earlier this year for at least 200 new cars with options for 300 more. It is able to pursue this purchase thanks to a major infusion of funding from the capital program that was approved this year in Springfield.
Metra has programmed nearly $1.2 billion over the next five years for the purchase and rehabilitation of railcars and locomotives.
The manufacturers were allowed to propose alternative car designs that may address Metra’s needs better than the bi-level gallery cars that have been used in Chicago for nearly 70 years. In particular, Metra is looking for cars that increase capacity and optimize passenger amenities.
Which amenities? That’s where customers come in.
Metra has created a survey at metrarail.com that allows customers to say which amenities are most important to them. Metra will use the feedback from the survey as it negotiates with the manufacturers to design the best possible railcar.
Do you want to see cupholders? Tray tables? Tables between seats? Dimmable lights? Tinted or untinted windows? Head rests? Arm rests? USB chargers? Interior information screens? Exterior information screens? Wi-Fi?
Now’s your chance to let us know. The survey is open now until mid-January.
Metra can’t guarantee that it will be able to incorporate everything into the new cars, but it can promise to do all it can to get the most amenities possible.
Metra is one of the largest and most complex commuter rail systems in North America, serving Cook, DuPage, Will, Lake, Kane and McHenry counties in northeastern Illinois.
The agency provides service to and from downtown Chicago with 242 stations over 11 routes totaling nearly 500 route miles and approximately 1,200 miles of track. Metra operates nearly 700 trains and provides nearly 290,000 passenger trips each weekday.