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Metra just announced it is looking for a “ride share partner” to join the commuter railroad in helping riders solve what we in transit call the ”first mile/last mile” challenge. That is, helping a rider get to his or her final destination when it’s not an easy walk from a transit stop.

Metra’s press release says the entity that provides the highest submittal price will be allowed to include its name on a wide range of promotional materials, including posters displayed at train stations, on Metra trains, timetables, and on Metra’s website. The partner will also be granted access to distribute promotional information at four of Metra’s downtown stations and 25 outlying stations.

In this public-private partnership, riders will be made aware of a private sector option (think Uber or Lyft perhaps) to cover the “first mile/last mile,” and this new partner will be able to reach Metra riders through these promotional channels.

We at the RTA believe our public transportation system is the backbone of a regional transportation eco-system.   Innovative actions like the marketing partnership Metra is seeking can help move our system forward and are meant to make taking transit a more workable option for all of us.

The RTA is also working to address these challenges. For example, we’re working with some regional business leaders, transit agency staff, and new “mobility on demand companies” to discuss ways to find solutions.

We also continue to work with businesses throughout the region on a program we call “the shuttlebug,” in which companies (employers) pay half the cost of bus service operated by Pace that goes from a train station to their offices, moving riders (their employees) along that “first mile/last mile” from the station to work.

Whether it’s exploring marketing partnerships with the private sector or expanding the shuttlebug program, the RTA, CTA, Metra and Pace want to make taking transit a viable option for everyone so more of us can Ride On.




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