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Chicago Metra Plans To Shut Down Bar Cars, Underestimates Motivational Power of Alcohol When Commuting To/From Dead End Job

Posted in Commuter Cars, Newsworthy, Traffic, Travel by Suzanne Denbow | August 27th, 2008 | 5 Responses |

On Friday, the Milwaukee District West Line’s last “bar car” will celebrate happy hour for last time. Crowded and noisy, the bar is a hometown favorite with most of its passengers. Unfortunately, the number of commuters traveling by rail is growing at a rapid rate, and Metra has decided they need the saloon space to accommodate the overflow. In the Chicago Tribune, Metra spokeswoman Judy Pardonnet explained, “We know at times the bars can be very crowded. If we eliminate them, we can allow people to get through [to less crowded cars] more easily. Some people avoid going into the bar car.” Missing the larger issue entirely, Metra was apparently absent the day Human Resources covered, “How To Cope With A Thankless Job And/Or Sexless Marriage.”

Officially referred to by Chicago’s public transit line Metra as “refreshment cars,” there are about still about 10 of the “rolling taverns” currently operating within the Metra system. There used to be several more, but Metra began slowing killing them off years ago, simply failing to renew vendor contracts when they came due. Although the American Public Transportation System had expressed concerns in the past over the potentially potent mixture of alcohol and a grueling day at work, Metra insists their motivation for shutting down the bar cars is based purely in practicality. According to Metra, the bar cars only generate around $100,000 a year annually which is downright paltry compared to what they could make off ticket sales if they replaced the mobile bars with commuter cars.

[Source: Chicago Tribune]

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5 Responses

  1. Joe says:

    Soon they won’t let you smoke on trains either. Oh wait a minute.

  2. Suzanne Denbow says:


    When I first saw the article I thought, “No WAY, they have ‘bar cars’?” Sigh. How deprived we’ve become of life’s simple pleasures ;-)

  3. Commuter1 says:

    Metra won’t gain any seating capacity by eliminating the vendors. The vendors occupy space in the boarding area. Bar cars have the same seating capacity as a standard passenger car.

  4. Suzanne Denbow says:

    So it’s a senseless act of prohibition? I feel genuinely sorry for every social drinker who rides the 5:17.

  5. Metra rider says:

    Metra’s explanation is phony. They might have a good reason, like rising liability insurance cost, but the space issue is bogus. It’s just one more example of the bureaucratic “one size fits all” mentality in public service, that values cookie-cutter policies over individual accommodation.

    Those refreshment cars were always packed to standing-room capacity. Any revenue that Metra reaped off the refreshment sales was gravy, and there was no lost capacity, nor any lost ticket revenue. What was the real agenda?