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Metra plans responses to commuter complaints

Metra riders who beefed about communication problems in a survey last month should see some improvements soon, officials say.

Outcry over Metra communication snafus during January’s brutal cold and snow prompted Metra CEO Don Orseno to order the email survey of customers Feb. 10-17.

Officials are still analyzing the results, but Metra spokesman Michael Gillis said steps that should address some concerns include enhancements to Metra’s heavily maligned Train Tracker .

Also coming soon, customers who complained about their email boxes being overloaded with irrelevant alerts should be able to narrow notifications they receive. To make alerts more timely, Metra workers have been told to issue more “blanket alerts” covering several trains as soon as a problem is expected, rather than waiting until a train is 15 minutes late.

Workers who issue platform announcements after a train is six minutes late now have more time to focus on that duty and are being backed up with extra staff on busy days, Gillis said.

Conductors, who often were criticized as clueless by survey respondents across all 11 Metra lines, are being encouraged to “provide continuous information to passengers, with frequent updates even if we have no new information to convey,” Gillis said.

Metra also is working with Union Pacific, which uses Metra tracks under a contract, to supply conductors with phones so they have direct contact with Metra’s communication headquarters.

Rosalind Rossi

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