Is Metra keeping up with commuters tech needs? New study says no

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CHICAGO --  A new study from DePaul University suggests more people are riding Metra because they want to use their electronics on their commute. Instead of driving and sitting in traffic, commuters on trains can text, read tablets, talk on the phone and email.

The study says 44-percent of riders use electronics that would be illegal to use while driving.  That’s three times more than when they tracked it five years ago.

But does Metra have the infrastructure to support that?

Metra has seen a bump in ridership, despite a 25 percent fare increase in 2012.  The  new study suggests that bump is in part due to our dependence on electronics.

The study also says Metra falls short in offering commuters tech friendly amenities.

There’s no system wide Wi-Fi on board Metra trains or at any of the five downtown stations. There’s also a lack of power outlets and the 3G and 4G signals are spotty.

Metra says it’s currently installing charging outlets on its new and renovated train cars and expects a third of its fleet to have them by the end of the year.

As for Wi-Fi, Metra is in the early stages of exploring options for Wi-Fi at all downtown stations under Metra’s control.  Metra is also analyzing proposals to put Wi-Fi on trains at no cost to Metra.

Metra says it’s capital needs are great and its resources are insufficient to meet them but that it’s doing all it can to modernize the system.

For more on the study log on to DePaul’s website.

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