Union Pacific responds to RT&S story on Metra lawsuit

Written by David C. Lester, Managing Editor
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Yesterday, RT&S published a story about Metra bringing suit against Union Pacific for breach of contract. You can read that story via the preceding link.

Today, Union Pacific responded to our report with the following statement:

Union Pacific is unwilling to put fare collection ahead of employee and commuter health and safety during a global pandemic, and we are prepared to vigorously defend ourselves in court.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to managing fare collection during a pandemic. Transit agencies nationwide are managing this in different ways, such as not collecting fares, plexiglass protectors between customers and operators, returning conductors in new roles without selling tickets and innovating with contact-less technology. Last week, Union Pacific implemented a ticket sales and verification process that puts health and safety first, while providing an opportunity to increase fare collection at a time when ridership is down 90% across all of Metra’s lines. The process is working well.

Union Pacific’s highest priority is safety. We want Chicago commuters to feel safe and confident as they return to riding trains, and our employees must feel the same. Following the tragic loss of two Union Pacific ticket agents during the pandemic, we will continue to use an abundance of caution, while following guidance from our company’s medical team, CDC, City of Chicago and the governor on best practices related to COVID-19.

Nearly three years ago, Metra took responsibility for onboard passenger and public safety. We’ve repeatedly asked Metra to increase its police presence to address commuter safety concerns, as well as enforce ticketing and mask requirements.

The contract under which Union Pacific operates Metra’s commuter trains expires Dec. 31. Union Pacific has worked diligently with Metra over the last 15 months to find an agreeable solution for a seamless services transfer upon expiration of the contract for Metra to operate its own trains, and we have repeatedly offered solutions that benefit Chicago commuters and Metra.

We appreciate Union Pacific providing their position on this issue.

Categories: Class 1, Commuter/Regional, News, Passenger, Railroad News
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