Bi-Level gold

By Nicholas Rougeux, posted on June 5, 2009 in Travel

I love On the Bi-Level. It's a bi-monthly newsletter from Metra written for and distributed only on the trains throughout the fleet since the 1980s. It's one of the tiny gems that I discovered when I started riding.

Each issue comprises no more than four pages and has two regular sections (taking up half the issue): Sounding Board for obscure questions that only Metra can answer and Sound Off, "&helip;the snarky, snotty observations by Metra's customers about fellow commuters…" That's the quote from the SouthtownStar that's been headlining recent issues. Sound Off is always a great read because it covers people complaining about everything including schedules, ticket prices, loud music overheard through headphones, and people clipping their toenails.

Metra responds to each gripe that they publish in a matter-of-fact manner and tends to poke fun at the complainer and this issue is no different. Here's one of my favorites from this issue:

Original letter:

Seathoggers Part 143: In your last issue you said seathoggers "don't care" and "they're just hoping they can get away with it." They are getting away with it because you (Metra) are allowing them to "get away with it." By "allowing" them to "get away with it" you (Metra) are encouraging them. This also includes passengers who take over an entire seat with their "fast food" packages, drinks, etc. And usually they will leave their "mess" behind when they leave the train.

—Ronnie, Milwaukee North

Metra's response:

We assume you (Ronnie) mean that we (Metra) are "allowing" them (seathoggers) to "get away with it" because our conductors are lax about asking them (seathoggers) to stop being rude. No doubt our conductors could do more, but they do have more important duties. And we (Metra) are hardly "encouraging" them (seathoggers). Hardly an OTBL issue goes by without a letter about the issue. Heck, we (Metra) have even devoted cover stories to the problem ("Weeding out seathogs," March 2005). And really, this is a problem that in the vast majority of cases can be solved by you (Ronnie, or any other rider) politely but firmly asking them (seathoggers) to move it (their crap). They (seathoggers) are rudely putting the onus on you (Ronnie or any other rider) to take the initiative, but they (seathoggers) will usually comply, albeit grudgingly, when asked.


Golden. I love it—right down to the title Metra gave the gripe. If you ride Metra, I highly recommend reading On the Bi-Level regularly. If you don't, you can always download the latest issue from their Web site.

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