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New ticket machines offer greater convenience to Metra riders

(March 9, 2012) - 
Metra Acting Chairman Larry Huggins and CEO Alex Clifford on Friday unveiled a major new convenience for Metra customers: credit card ticket vending machines at three downtown terminals.
“We are happy to give our riders yet another option for buying tickets,” said Clifford said. “We are committed to improving customer service throughout our system. Our riders will find these machines to be quick and easy to use.”
Huggins and Clifford appeared at a press conference at Union Station, where three machines were installed near the Metra ticket office. Union Station serves six lines, including the BNSF, Milwaukee North and West, North Central Service, Heritage Corridor and SouthWest Service lines. At the Ogilvie Transportation Center, which serves the three UP lines, two were installed at the track level near the south end of the platforms and one was installed on the ground-floor Suburban Concourse.
Two machines were installed at LaSalle St. Station, which serves the Rock Island Line.
The machines are supplementing ticket agents at each station.

Convenient & easy to use

Customers will find the machines easy to use. The first screen asks a rider to select the type of ticket he or she wants to buy: a one-way, 10-ride or monthly ticket. On the next screen, they are asked to select which line they will use. They are then asked to select their station destination from an alphanumeric listing.
Once the station is selected, the next screen asks whether the rider wants to order any additional tickets and lists a total for the order. They then insert their credit card to pay for the ticket. The machines accept Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express.
The last screen asks whether the rider wants a receipt.
A phone is located near each machine to connect riders to a customer service representative if they have problems or questions.
The machines can be used to buy full fare one-way, 10-ride and monthly tickets. Reduced fare tickets cannot be purchased from the machines because riders are required to show a permit or meet other conditions to be eligible. The machines also will sell weekend tickets on weekends.

About the new ticket vending machines

The machines are the same as the 31 credit card vending machines already installed at the busiest stations on the Metra Electric Line, including at that line’s two downtown stations, Millennium and Van Buren. The cost for 43 machines, plus some related expenses, was about $2 million. The machines for the multiple diesel lines required more complex software than that used on the single Metra Electric Line and also required more extensive testing. About 15,000 transactions were performed during testing.
Two other locations will get machines this spring: McCormick Place, which is served by the Metra Electric Line, and Route 59 on the BNSF Line, the busiest station outside of downtown. 
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