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Updates on Chicago Boarding?


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#21 lstone19

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 01:25 PM

METRA trains are simply parked on various tracks and passengers are free to come and go to the trains as long as there is a train sitting and available on the track.  


No need for a train to be there. If it's not in the station yet, many of us just go stand where our car door will be.

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#22 Lonestar648

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 03:31 PM

METRA boarding is from both the north and south on both sides of the station.  For Example on the North Tracks, METRA passengers can come down the stairs from Madison or from the station itself.  If the train isn't there you just wait where the car door will be when the train pulls in. Many times the platform is getting crowed but very orderly during the wait.Most of the passengers do this procedure every business day.


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#23 Durham57

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 11:50 PM

Help, help, help!  I am completely confused about boarding from the new Metropolitan Lounge.  Also, confused regarding changed Red Cap service.  The old lounge policies were thoroughly familiar, having passed through annually for many years.

 

We depend on Red Cap service to carry us upon arrival from our bedroom car to the lounge; pick us up at the lounge to take us directly to our outbound bedroom car.

 

Our experience last June, 2016 was entirely different; maybe still working out the glitches?  So...what to expect this coming June?

 

- Last June the Red Caps were no longer allowed inside the lounge, but did carry passengers with luggage to just outside the door of the new lounge.   ~ Still the same?

 

"Old" procedure was for same Red Cap who brings passengers to the lounge, to give them his return time to pick up and carry back to the train.  Last June, instead of returning for their passenger(s), we found that we were to ask the desk to call for a Red Cap.   ~  Still the same?

 

- What is the procedure now for boarding from the Metropolitan Lounge?  Now that boarding is done by groups, where do we gather... inside or outside the front entrance of the lounge or elsewhere? Great Hall has been mentioned repeatedly.  True?

 

- Are passengers needing a Red Cap able to hail one at the boarding group gathering place?  Do we still ask the lounge desk to call for a cart?  Are Red Caps back to returning for their passengers at a specified time?

 

You all have been a great help with my questions for the past several years. Just please point us in the right direction, tell us where to go and what to expect.  Many thanks!

 

Durham57

 

 

 

 



#24 Tennessee Traveler

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Posted 17 March 2017 - 10:41 AM

Durham57, by your questions you are truly confused.  Most importantly SEPARATE the Metropolitan(Sleeper/Business) Lounge from the Great Hall General Boarding for coach "groups", etc.  Those in the Metropolitan Lounge do not do any of the coach check in, etc.

 

If you were in the Metropolitan Lounge last June after it opened the process for boarding and red caps is basically the same except it has been refined to work more smoothly.  Red caps still pick up just outside the door to the lounge(they do and can walk inside the host desk and sometimes in the luggage storage room to help with the luggage).  You still let the lounge host know that you desire a redcap.  The host does announce that those requiring red cap assistance to come to the host checkin area.  As for arriving passengers, red caps meet you at train side and bring you to the Metropolitan Lounge just outside the entrance door to the lounge.

 

Those not requiring redcap board from the Metropolitan Lounge.  The lounge host announces that a particular train is ready for boarding and and requests you assemble in the lounge entrance area.  From there your are directed to exit through a side door into the main terminal.  An Amtrak employee just outside the door points out the direction you should walk through the concourse adjacent the tracks entrance doors.  Boarding track number is also announced.  As you approach the Amtrak boarding track door an Amtrak employee will direct you toward your train or sometimes ask you to wait until the train on board staff and conductor are ready to receive boarding passengers.  This might sound complicated but once you do it a couple times you will find the boarding flows smoothly.  

 

IMPORTANT - At no time do passengers boarding from the Metropolitan Lounge have to check in for coach general boarding in the Great Hall nor participate in that boarding from the Great Hall process.  That is only for general boarding coach passengers who do not otherwise qualify for one of the priority boarding groups such as "senior adults", handicap, military, etc.

 

I personally use the red caps and have had no problem using them boarding and arriving.  In fact when arriving last time the red cap actually took me to the elevator to go up to the taxi waiting area since I was overnighting in Chicago.



#25 Durham57

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Posted 18 March 2017 - 01:08 AM

Tennessee Traveler:   A million thanks!  Your reply makes it all clear now.  ~  Regards, Durham57



#26 RSG

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Posted 18 March 2017 - 04:53 AM

Still a mystery to me why boarding a train in the US has to be such a complicated process. Rest of the world - you display the platform/track, people get on.

IMHO, this has much to do with the layout of tracks and stations in general in the US. In the case of Union Station in Chicago, the current track layout hasn't been overhauled in thirty years (but is the next stage of the overall renovation project). While I have no clue as to why it is laid out as it is today, it certainly leaves much to be desired as to usability and clarity. 
 
But let's contrast that to airport terminals in the past forty years or so. Many an airline traveler had horror stories of this airport or that airport being a confusing mess and hard to navigate for the casual traveler. Nowadays, there are airports that actually get kudos for being traveler friendly. Part of that has to do with the interior design concept known as 'wayfinding'. Industrial designers are now employed in renovation projects to integrate designs with the manner in which people actually use the facilities. [Fun fact: given a central common entrance to a building, most people will automatically gravitate towards the right. Most redesigns of buildings use that behavioral anomaly to locate important and/or commonly used services. This is why information kiosks may not be directly ahead when entering a public facility.]


#27 RSG

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Posted 18 March 2017 - 05:17 AM

I personally use the red caps and have had no problem using them boarding and arriving.  In fact when arriving last time the red cap actually took me to the elevator to go up to the taxi waiting area since I was overnighting in Chicago.

I find the arrival Red Cap procedure to be the same as with the former Metropolitan Lounge; the departure isn't quite as smooth in my opinion. Perhaps that is because I'm not as familiar with the current setup as I was with the old one.
 
What has changed is the clarity for self-boarding from the new Metropolitan Lounge. I've found the directions given over the public address system to be quite clear (it also helps that the Exit Only door from the ML positions one in the main thoroughfare to the track gates). This has enabled me to shuttle my luggage in multiple trips when I've missed the call for the Red Cap---or when my least favorite Red Cap is on duty and I wish not to partake of their services.
 
They seem to keep refining the procedures; upon my last trip in late January there are now agents acting as sign-wavers for individual trains near the appropriate gate, in addition to those acting as concierges. Also, for those who haven't used the new Metropolitan Lounge, the return entry passes are gone; the desk attendants prefer to use a highlighter to mark a printed eTicket or itinerary for reentry. If you use a mobile device as your ticket method, it will help to bring a paper copy or use the QuikTrak machines to print a copy prior to your first entry of the day to the new Metropolitan Lounge.


#28 MattW

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Posted 18 March 2017 - 02:05 PM

 

Still a mystery to me why boarding a train in the US has to be such a complicated process. Rest of the world - you display the platform/track, people get on.

IMHO, this has much to do with the layout of tracks and stations in general in the US. In the case of Union Station in Chicago, the current track layout hasn't been overhauled in thirty years (but is the next stage of the overall renovation project). While I have no clue as to why it is laid out as it is today, it certainly leaves much to be desired as to usability and clarity. 
 
But let's contrast that to airport terminals in the past forty years or so. Many an airline traveler had horror stories of this airport or that airport being a confusing mess and hard to navigate for the casual traveler. Nowadays, there are airports that actually get kudos for being traveler friendly. Part of that has to do with the interior design concept known as 'wayfinding'. Industrial designers are now employed in renovation projects to integrate designs with the manner in which people actually use the facilities. [Fun fact: given a central common entrance to a building, most people will automatically gravitate towards the right. Most redesigns of buildings use that behavioral anomaly to locate important and/or commonly used services. This is why information kiosks may not be directly ahead when entering a public facility.]

 

That has jack squat to do with it! Our station layouts are no worse than any anywhere else in the world.


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#29 gatelouse

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Posted 19 March 2017 - 12:40 AM

[Fun fact: given a central common entrance to a building, most people will automatically gravitate towards the right. Most redesigns of buildings use that behavioral anomaly to locate important and/or commonly used services. This is why information kiosks may not be directly ahead when entering a public facility.]

Interesting--is this universal or reversed in countries where people drive on the left?
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#30 maxbuskirk

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Posted 19 March 2017 - 02:18 AM

I heard this also plays a role in supermarket design, as well.

I have ridden Cascades #516 (SEA-STW), Coast Starlight #14 (LAX-SLO), Southwest Chief #4 (LAX-CHI), Cardinal #50 (CHI-NYP), Northeast Regional #85 (NYP-WAS), Capitol Limited #30 (HFY-WAS), Coast Starlight #14 (LAX-PDX), and many Pacific Surfliners with Amtrak. I have seen, including the previous, California Zephyr #5 at SAC (with luck), what I guess to be Crescent #19 (at WAS) and Silver Meteor #97 (at WAS), and Empire Builder #28 at PDX. I have also ridden the Hokutosei in Japan, Ueno - Sapporo (now discontinued).


#31 RSG

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Posted 19 March 2017 - 04:40 AM

[Fun fact: given a central common entrance to a building, most people will automatically gravitate towards the right. Most redesigns of buildings use that behavioral anomaly to locate important and/or commonly used services. This is why information kiosks may not be directly ahead when entering a public facility.]

Interesting--is this universal or reversed in countries where people drive on the left?

That is an interesting question; an architect of my acquaintance told me that factoid originally. It's why he designs public buildings with help desks or information stations located on the right and encourages his clients to place "You've gotta see this!" items towards the right past the entryway.

#32 SarahZ

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Posted 19 March 2017 - 10:37 AM

I wonder if it has to do with hand preference. I tend to veer left, while I've been with friends who veer right. We end up separated for a second.

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#33 AmtrakBlue

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Posted 19 March 2017 - 11:14 AM

I wonder if it has to do with hand preference. I tend to veer left, while I've been with friends who veer right. We end up separated for a second.

I've always thought, for me at least, because we were taught to walk on the right side at school.  When I shop at a mall, I tend to walk on the right and then exit stores to the right.


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#34 SarahZ

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Posted 19 March 2017 - 11:19 AM

 

I wonder if it has to do with hand preference. I tend to veer left, while I've been with friends who veer right. We end up separated for a second.

I've always thought, for me at least, because we were taught to walk on the right side at school.  When I shop at a mall, I tend to walk on the right and then exit stores to the right.

 

 

I do that too, because that's a traffic pattern.

 

I was thinking more of when you enter a larger, open space and then have to turn one way or the other but direction doesn't matter (i.e. you aren't heading toward something specific). Amusement parks are a good example. From the gate, people tend to go right, but I go left.


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#35 AmtrakBlue

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Posted 19 March 2017 - 11:21 AM

 

 

I wonder if it has to do with hand preference. I tend to veer left, while I've been with friends who veer right. We end up separated for a second.

I've always thought, for me at least, because we were taught to walk on the right side at school.  When I shop at a mall, I tend to walk on the right and then exit stores to the right.

 

 

I do that too, because that's a traffic pattern.

 

I was thinking more of when you enter a larger, open space and then have to turn one way or the other but direction doesn't matter (i.e. you aren't heading toward something specific). Amusement parks are a good example. From the gate, people tend to go right, but I go left.

 

That's because you want to get away from people.  ;)


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#36 SarahZ

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Posted 19 March 2017 - 11:26 AM

Honestly, that might be part of it - a subconscious desire to avoid crowds.


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#37 railiner

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Posted 19 March 2017 - 11:41 AM

I heard this also plays a role in supermarket design, as well.

Retail marketing science....interesting...

Ever notice that the things that most people want to grab and go in a supermarket, such as milk, bread, etc....are located in the furthest corner's of the store, away from the entrance? 

Or that retail department stores,  make you walk thru the perfume area (most profitable due to markups?)  to get anywhere? ;)


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#38 railiner

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Posted 19 March 2017 - 12:03 PM

 

METRA trains are simply parked on various tracks and passengers are free to come and go to the trains as long as there is a train sitting and available on the track.  


No need for a train to be there. If it's not in the station yet, many of us just go stand where our car door will be.

 

 

 

METRA boarding is from both the north and south on both sides of the station.  For Example on the North Tracks, METRA passengers can come down the stairs from Madison or from the station itself.  If the train isn't there you just wait where the car door will be when the train pulls in. Many times the platform is getting crowed but very orderly during the wait.Most of the passengers do this procedure every business day.

You really can't compare daily commuter's that can almost find their train blindfolded, with sometimes bewildered long-distance traveler's, that might be coming thru Union Station for the first time. as well as burdened with luggage....

 

That said, I recall the old CUS, before Amtrak, before Metropolitan Lounges, etc.

IIRC, boarding was no big deal, no 'kindergarten walk'...

you sat in the Great Hall, until they announced or posted your train as ready for boarding.  For the major trains, they had announced a check-in prior to that, and their were colorful, movable check in desks, one for coach and one for Pullman, decorated in the style of the train they were for, set up in line of the track entrance.

 

When they tore down the concourse, and erected the office building, that destroyed the space needed to accomplish that....


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#39 Devil's Advocate

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Posted 20 March 2017 - 01:19 AM

Still a mystery to me why boarding a train in the US has to be such a complicated process. Rest of the world - you display the platform/track, people get on.

IMHO, this has much to do with the layout of tracks and stations in general in the US...

That has jack squat to do with it! Our station layouts are no worse than any anywhere else in the world.

 
Although I think some of our stations have indeed suffered seriously regressive renovations I would tend to agree that none of this explains why our navigational signage, schedule and track updates, and basic traffic flow rate as some of the weakest in the world. Or at least among the industrialized countries I've visited so far.

 

I heard this also plays a role in supermarket design, as well.

Retail marketing science....interesting...Ever notice that the things that most people want to grab and go in a supermarket, such as milk, bread, etc....are located in the furthest corner's of the store, away from the entrance?  Or that retail department stores,  make you walk thru the perfume area (most profitable due to markups?)  to get anywhere?


That traffic flow trickery and sensory manipulation is part of the reason people are abandoning brick & mortar stores and embracing online purchasing. Guess they weren't quite as smart as they thought they were if the end result was that most of the traffic flow turned around and left.

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#40 RSG

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Posted 20 March 2017 - 07:58 AM

Retail marketing science....interesting...
Ever notice that the things that most people want to grab and go in a supermarket, such as milk, bread, etc....are located in the furthest corner's of the store, away from the entrance? 
Or that retail department stores,  make you walk thru the perfume area (most profitable due to markups?)  to get anywhere? ;)

John Stoessel, when he was ABC News' consumer reporter, did a story on that for 20/20 one time. The reason milk is in the back of the store is because they don't want you to come in and out just for milk. So by placing it in the rear, you have many more opportunities to pick up something else to or from the checkouts. Bread represents an interesting change though, since in most stores it's now near the front and often near the bakery department, which is also near the front of the store. The only exception to the milk-in-the-rear I have seen is my local Target, which installed their pantry department on the other side of the registers. But I think it had more to do with mechanical considerations in a landlocked store as to where the milk & frozen coolers were placed.




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