CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Metra kicked off its 'My Metra' advertising campaign Tuesday to assure commuters they can be confident it’s safe to ride the rails during the coronavirus pandemic.
“The thrust of this effort is to tell our customers that we’re ready for them when they’re ready for us," said Metra CEO/Executive Director Jim Derwinski.
Metra ridership is down 90 percent from normal to about 25,000 riders a day. Normal ridership is 260,000 to 270,000 a day, according to Metra Chief Operating Officer Bruce Marcheschi.
Now, the commuter agency said it will spend $967,000 between now and next April on radio, TV, digital and outdoor ads to convince you it’s safe to ride.
“'My Metra’ is about making sure we’re there when you need us,” Derwinski said. “It’s about getting you home safely and comfortably, just as we did for essential workers throughout the pandemic. It’s about always meeting your expectations. And it’s about communicating our value and relevance to you and the region.”
"You’ll see spotless cars that look almost new. We have a mask requirement for everyone on board. We have a one-person per seat policy that promotes staggered seating and physical distancing," said Metra Chief of Staff Janice Thomas.
Thomas adds that there are hand sanitizers and hospital-grade air filters in every car.
Riders will also find a significant number of signs on each car reinforcing the mask and social distancing rules and highlighting these steps and more. Metra also has created a new ridership dashboard showing the number of people using each train so riders can make informed decisions about which trains to use.
Metra CEO Jim Derwinski said that while most people do follow the rules and wear masks, some riders don’t. Towards that end, he said, Metra is considering hiring more conductors on cars to educate those riders. He said there's no mechanism for throwing people off trains for not wearing masks, short of calling in police.
“I don’t think it’s too early to say that 2020 will go down as one of the most challenging years in history,” Derwinski said. “Although there may be uncertainty ahead, you can be certain that Metra won’t let you down. We will do everything we can to provide the safe, healthy, comfortable and reliable service you have come to expect.”