WBEZ | Metra http://www.wbez.org/tags/metra Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Morning Shift: Do increased smoking restrictions mean less smokers? http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-02-18/morning-shift-do-increased-smoking-restrictions-mean <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Flickr lanier67.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A proposed bill in the state Senate would fine smokers who light up with kids in the car. But, does a ticket really prevent people from lighting up? We hear from smokers and those looking to curb the addiction.</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-do-increased-smoking-restrictions-me/embed?header=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-do-increased-smoking-restrictions-me.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-do-increased-smoking-restrictions-me" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Do increased smoking restrictions mean less smokers?" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Tue, 18 Feb 2014 08:32:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-02-18/morning-shift-do-increased-smoking-restrictions-mean Morning Shift: Holacracy seeks to draw perfect circles in the workplace http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-02-12/morning-shift-holacracy-seeks-draw-perfect-circles <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Circles Flickr Creativity103.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>How&#39;d you like to work without a boss? We dive into the idea of holacracy where workplace authority and decision making are evenly distributed. Also, what happens after prison?&nbsp;</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-holacracy-concept-seeks-to-draw-perf/embed?header=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-holacracy-concept-seeks-to-draw-perf.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-holacracy-concept-seeks-to-draw-perf" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Holacracy seeks to draw perfect circles in the workplace" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Wed, 12 Feb 2014 08:40:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-02-12/morning-shift-holacracy-seeks-draw-perfect-circles Morning Shift: The Beatles invade America-on the small screen http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-02-04/morning-shift-beatles-invade-america-small-screen <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Flickr by Affendaddy.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Next weekend marks the 50th anniversary of The Beatles first appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show. We discuss that monumental moment and other important moments in musical/TV history. And, 10 years of Facebook-what&#39;s the social networking giant&#39;s future?</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-the-beatles-invade-america/embed?header=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-the-beatles-invade-america.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-the-beatles-invade-america" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: The Beatles invade America-on the small screen" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Tue, 04 Feb 2014 07:58:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-02-04/morning-shift-beatles-invade-america-small-screen Morning Shift: Triva in the pursuit of tolerance http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-12-23/morning-shift-triva-pursuit-tolerance-109431 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/131223 Cover.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Tracy Baim of Windy City Times and Tony play the new trivia game &quot;That&#39;s So Gay&quot; that aims to break stereotypes and explore LGBTQ history. And, we check in with the Cook County Republican Party to learn about their endorsement for the gubernatorial race.</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-triva-in-the-pursuit-of-tolerance/embed?header=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-triva-in-the-pursuit-of-tolerance.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-triva-in-the-pursuit-of-tolerance" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Triva in the pursuit of tolerance" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Mon, 23 Dec 2013 11:20:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-12-23/morning-shift-triva-pursuit-tolerance-109431 Morning Shift: Drawing a line on where guns can be drawn http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-09-10/morning-shift-drawing-line-where-guns-can-be-drawn <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Gun - Flickr - phoosh.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Today we take on the the gun debate and how a line may be drawn at certain locations. Where do you think guns should not be banned? Then, Chris Jones and Chris Vire give us a preview on plays and musicals Chicago theaters are planning to let grace their stages.&nbsp;</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-61/embed?header=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-61.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-61" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Drawing a line on where guns can be drawn" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Tue, 10 Sep 2013 08:29:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-09-10/morning-shift-drawing-line-where-guns-can-be-drawn Metra in the wind, sleet and rain http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/metra-wind-sleet-and-rain-108252 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Metra train thumbnail image Flickr Larry Darling.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Cory Feign remembers being marooned somewhere between Mount Prospect and Chicago&rsquo;s Ogilvie Transportation Center, staring out the windows of a Metra train at a drizzly little storm.</p><p>What I would think of as a typical storm came through,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;The kind of thing that if you were a kid you&rsquo;d be riding your bike through puddles as the storm was wrapping up, that trains should keep moving through. It didn&rsquo;t seem like, &lsquo;Thank God they stopped this train.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>That got him thinking:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>When and why did Metra start shutting down the entire regional train system due to potentially severe weather?</em></p><p>The 37-year-old rides his bike to Metra&rsquo;s Union Pacific Northwest line in suburban Mount Prospect every morning, commuting to his job across the street from Ogilvie as a trader for WRN. He says in recent years severe weather warnings have screeched trains to a halt more often than they used to.</p><p>At least compared to 2012, Cory is right. <a href="http://climateillinois.wordpress.com/2013/07/01/wet-june-and-wettest-year-to-date-in-illinois/">Until July this was Illinois&rsquo; wettest year to date</a>, with parts of the state <a href="http://climateillinois.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/il-prcp-mpe-m2d-dev-20130630.png">including northern Cook County, where Cory&#39;s train goes</a>, registering big departures from average precipitation between January and June.</p><p>Last year, extreme weather delayed 41 Union Pacific trains, compared to 209 so far this year. A lightning strike in April knocked out signals near Ogilvie, delaying 74 trains in one fell swoop.</p><p><strong>Ever-watchful tracks</strong></p><p>When we set out to answer Cory&rsquo;s question, Metra spokesman Mike Gillis corrected our course right away.</p><p>&ldquo;Metra has not recently shut down system-wide in bad weather,&rdquo; Gillis said. &ldquo;What has happened, however, is that BNSF Railway and Union Pacific have stopped trains.&rdquo; Burlington Northern Santa Fe and Union Pacific are independent train companies, based in Texas and Nebraska respectively. They operate the Metra lines that bear their names, while Metra operates the seven remaining lines in the local commuter rail system.</p><p>BNSF, UP and Metra share the goal of keeping riders safe, Gillis said, but their operating rules vary slightly. So we asked Mark Davis, spokesman for Union Pacific.</p><p>&ldquo;Weather plays a huge role in the rail industry and has since its beginning,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>The weather service AccuWeather provides UP with national weather data, he said, but the railroad company is already well-connected. It has sensors along railroad tracks across its 23-state network that measure the heat in railcar bearings. Those sensors feed data into a master computer system, which also gets information from about 1,400 temperature stations operated by UP.</p><p>&ldquo;Why is that important to us? Well, extreme weather fluctuations impact the rail itself,&rdquo; Davis said. &ldquo;During the summer, in extreme heat, rail wants to grow, metal wants to expand and grow. During the winter it&rsquo;s just the opposite &mdash; you have a huge temperature swing on the cold side and rail wants to pull apart.&rdquo;</p><p>Temperature swings cause slowdowns, or even put kinks in railroad switches.</p><p><strong>What happens during the rough stuff?</strong></p><p>When the weather&rsquo;s bad &mdash; but not bad enough to force a full shutdown &mdash; trains slow to less than 25 miles per hour. Metra dispatchers tell trains to reduce speed when there is a weather advisory for a tornado or severe thunderstorm.</p><p>High winds also pose a threat. At 70 miles per hour, wind can blow over a train car, but UP slows or stops service at 65 mph, in case there is a gust. AccuWeather currently provides wind speed information, updated every 15 minutes, but UP is rolling out its own network of wind sensors, Davis said.</p><p>Right now their closest wind sensor to Chicago is in central Iowa.</p><p>BNSF is working with Metra in Chicago to install wind detectors to provide real-time wind speed data along their line.</p><p>During a tornado warning, all UP trains stop in the warned area and usually wait at least 30 minutes after a warning is lifted, Davis said.</p><p>Metra uses similar protocol. Trains slow to 25 mph or less when there is a wind advisory above 60 mph. If wind speeds are expected to be above 70 mph, dispatchers tell trains outside the warning area to stop short as they close in, while workers inspect the track ahead. At 80 mph, or during a tornado warning, dispatchers instruct trains to stop at the first safe location and await further instructions even if they&rsquo;re outside the warning area.</p><p>Wind hasn&rsquo;t toppled any Midwest commuter trains in recent years, but coal trains and overloaded freight cars have blown over. In China<a href="http://web.archive.org/web/20070302073413/http:/www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/asiapcf/02/28/china.train.ap/index.html"> hurricane-strength winds during a sandstorm derailed an 11-car train, killing at least four people and injuring another 30</a>.</p><p>Luckily for Metra riders, such speeds aren&rsquo;t common in northern Illinois. According to Illinois State Climatologist Jim Angel, wind speeds have only topped 60 about 14 times since the early &rsquo;80s at O&rsquo;Hare (wind speed data is gathered at commercial airports).</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s hard to say if the number is really changing over time,&rdquo; Angel said. &ldquo;It appears to occur most often in the summer months.&rdquo;</p><p>But wind that wouldn&rsquo;t blow over cars might still rip off tree branches or bring down power lines. If a train engineer sees something on the tracks, he&rsquo;ll radio back to Metra&rsquo;s offices downtown.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve empowered our train crews,&rdquo; Davis said. &ldquo;If they feel it&rsquo;s unsafe they have the power to stop the train.&rdquo;</p><p>The worst disruption to area trains in recent years was the February second blizzard in 2011. Five Metra rail lines closed as more than 20 inches of snow blanketed Chicago. The other lines had to run on Sunday schedules.</p><p>So what about Cory&rsquo;s sense that shutdowns have become more common? Even if trains are still running during high winds and thunderstorms, he says it seems like they&rsquo;re running slowly. And those delays ripple out.</p><p>UP spokesman Davis likens it to O&rsquo;Hare, where a thunderstorm at one airport can affect airports across the country.</p><p><strong>Comparing notes: With your friends and en masse</strong></p><p>Cory has several friends who take a few of the other Metra lines. During delays they&rsquo;ve taken to sharing notes on weather conditions and announcements from train engineers.</p><p>&ldquo;I take the Northwest line and I have friends that take several of the other train lines. We kind of compare notes when these things are happening, because you get kind of bored sitting on the train with nothing to do,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Sometimes my friends will be like, &lsquo;Have you heard anything?&rsquo; &hellip; We have our own communication system to figure out when we might be able to get back home. It seems like that wouldn&rsquo;t be too hard to implement for the general public.&rdquo;</p><p>Metra does have<a href="https://twitter.com/Metra"> a Twitter feed</a>, which announces delays and advisories as they happen. &nbsp;</p><blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>ME Advisory - Inbound Train #118 Operating Approximately 15 to 20 Minutes Late <a href="http://t.co/7onDHeRl6Y">http://t.co/7onDHeRl6Y</a></p>&mdash; Metra (@Metra) <a href="https://twitter.com/Metra/statuses/362243482519220224">July 30, 2013</a></blockquote><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><p>With all the different weather conditions that could slow or stop a train, Cory&rsquo;s impromptu database may be at a disadvantage. But if he and his friends have service on their smartphones, they might do well to check weather maps and advisories. The people running their train sure are.</p><p><em>Chris Bentley writes for WBEZ. Follow him at<a href="http://twitter.com/cementley"> @cementley</a>.</em></p><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Wed, 31 Jul 2013 16:51:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/metra-wind-sleet-and-rain-108252 Metra’s pick to investigate wrongdoing claims pulls out http://www.wbez.org/news/metra%E2%80%99s-pick-investigate-wrongdoing-claims-pulls-out-108135 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Metra Meeting_130722_yp.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Metra officials were supposed to meet Monday to discuss the hiring of former U.S. Attorney Patrick Collins. He was to look into patronage allegations brought by ex-CEO Alex Clifford. At a Regional Transit Authority meeting last week, Clifford said he was forced out for not bowing to political pressure from House Speaker Michael Madigan.</p><p>Clifford alleged that two Metra board members in particular, Chairman Brad O&rsquo;Halloran and Larry Huggins, pressured him to approve a request by Madigan to giving a pay raise to a Metra employee and acquaintance of Madigan. At last week&rsquo;s hearing, both O&rsquo;Halloran and Huggins denied the accusations.</p><p>Last week, O&rsquo;Halloran named Collins to head an investigation into allegations against the rail service. But late Sunday, the law firm of Perkins Coie notified Metra of a &ldquo;potential conflict&rdquo; and that Collins could not take the case.</p><p>&ldquo;The board expressed their disappointment. And Chairman O&rsquo;Halloran expressed his disappointment that Mr. Collins cannot undertake this endeavor,&rdquo; says Metra spokesperson Michael Gillis. &ldquo;But he remains committed to interviewing other lawyers with outstanding reputations and investigative skills.&rdquo;</p><p>A written statement from Metra does not say what the conflict is. Gillis says he can&rsquo;t say whether a new investigator would be in place before Metra&rsquo;s next scheduled board meeting on August 16th.</p><p>Gillis says O&rsquo;Halloran will look for an alternative to Mr. Collins.</p><p>Clifford resigned in June and was given a severance package totaling more than $700,000. When asked at the RTA meeting about the large amount, Clifford said it was compensation to alleged damages to his reputation and the possibility of not finding another CEO job. Metra attorney Joseph Gagliardo said the money was to put off a protracted legal battle had Clifford stayed with Metra. Both sides say it was not hush money.</p><p><em>Yolanda Perdomo is a WBEZ host and producer. Follow her <a href="http://www.twitter.com/oyousef">@yolandanews</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 22 Jul 2013 12:32:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/metra%E2%80%99s-pick-investigate-wrongdoing-claims-pulls-out-108135 Madigan asked Metra to give pay raise to associate http://www.wbez.org/news/madigan-asked-metra-give-pay-raise-associate-108032 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/flickr_metra_vxla_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>House Speaker Michael Madigan says his office asked senior staff at Metra to consider a pay raise for an associate of his who was employed at the commuter rail agency in northeastern Illinois.</p><p>Madigan addresses the matter in a one-page statement he prepared for lawmakers investigating a costly severance deal for Metra&#39;s former CEO Alex Clifford. Clifford resigned last month and has alleged he was pushed out for resisting political pressure in decisions about hiring and contracts.</p><p>The link to Madigan, one of Illinois&#39; most powerful politicians, was an unexpected turn in hearings that are unearthing details of the eye-popping severance package for Clifford.</p><p>In Thursday&#39;s statement, Madigan says he withdrew his recommendation for a pay raise after learning that Clifford had expressed discomfort over it.</p></p> Thu, 11 Jul 2013 14:03:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/madigan-asked-metra-give-pay-raise-associate-108032 Metra installing defibrillators on all its trains http://www.wbez.org/news/metra-installing-defibrillators-all-its-trains-104585 <p><p>The Chicago-area&#39;s commuter rail agency is installing hundreds of portable, easy-to-use defibrillators on all of its trains.</p><p>Metra is only the second major metropolitan transit agency in the country to make the machines available for use in the event a passenger suffers a cardiac arrest.</p><p>In 2009, Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority commuter trains became the first in the U.S. to be equipped with automated external defibrillators.</p><p>Defibrillators are required on airliners and in public places such as sports stadiums. But cost and lack of training have prevented a greater proliferation.</p><p>A $536,000 grant from the Regional Transportation Authority is helping to pay for Metra&#39;s defibrillators.</p><p>Metra Chairman Brad O&#39;Halloran says he hopes staff will never have to use the machines but that it&#39;s important to make them available if needed.</p></p> Thu, 27 Dec 2012 13:25:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/metra-installing-defibrillators-all-its-trains-104585 Metra board approves price hike http://www.wbez.org/news/metra-board-approves-price-hike-103885 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/RS3509_5153495038_84a74d9baa.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The Metra board voted to raise the price of its ten-ride tickets today.</p><p>The board voted 8-2 in favor of the fare hike. The price of ten-ride tickets will jump about eleven percent starting in February.</p><p>&quot;The price of a ten-ride ticket actually is the price of nine full fares,&quot; said Metra spokesperson Meg Reile. &quot;Today the board voted to change that so that the ticket is actually the cost of 10 full fares.&quot;</p><p>Depending on the distance of the ride, the 10-ride tickets will cost between $2.75 and $9.25 more.</p><p>Rates for monthly passes and single ride tickets will stay the same.</p><p>&ldquo;In the meantime, (10-ride) tickets purchased between today and January 31...will only be valid until February 28,&rdquo; Reile said. &ldquo;That was also a measure today passed by the board to prevent stockpiling.&rdquo;</p><p>Metra officials said they expect to make more than $8.3 million from the price hike in 2013. The money will be used for capital improvements.</p><p>The news comes after a major fare hike for all Metra customers <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-01-30/news/ct-met-metra-fare-hike-20120130_1_10-ride-tickets-metra-ceo-executive-director-alex-clifford" target="_blank">earlier this year</a> -- where some travelers saw prices rise by more than 30 percent.</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 16 Nov 2012 12:34:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/metra-board-approves-price-hike-103885