Jaime DeSmit got a momentary shock last Sunday as her bus from Minnesota neared Union Station, from which she planned to scurry to the nearby Richard B. Ogilvie Transporation Center to catch the 6:30 p.m. train on Metra's UP-Northwest Line.
The momentary shock? According to Metra's online trip planner, which she consulted, the train had become a phantom train. Long a bulwark of the Sunday evening schedule, it had just disappeared. There was a 4:30 p.m. departure and an 8:30 p.m. departure. But no 6:30.
She called a friend, who consulted Metra's full schedule on a laptop and got the same result. But the friend had what turned out to be good advice: Go look for the train anyway.
Metra schedule omitting the 6:30 p.m. Sunday departure
The phantom train turned out to be there after all.
The problem, Metra says, occurred on Jan. 29, when some minor schedule changes were made on the Union Pacific North and West lines, and some trains were renumbered -- although the train times didn't change -- on the Northwest Line. Somehow in the process, computer gremlins eliminated the 6:30 p.m. train (as well as a couple of trains on the North Line) from the schedules and the trip planner.
Metra says everything should be OK now. But the bad news for commuters? The computers were working just fine on Wednesday morning when new ticket prices took a hefty jump upward.
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