Sunday, July 26, 2009

Private Commuter Rail: METRA Car 553

I was amazed this morning to read about Car 553, the last private commuter rail car on the Chicago-area METRA system. For a $900 annual membership, passengers who already hold valid METRA passes may ride in the car, which dates back to the 1920s.

Yesteryear's luxury parlor car has lost much of its luster. Mahogany paneling, gold trim, and crystal chandeliers have given way to blue-carpeted walls and seats that are "comfy but not cushy." But as the Tribune article points out, there are always seats, the ride is quiet (since cell phone conversations are limited to the vestibule or card room), and there are tables for work and other purposes.

This led me to wonder: is there possibly a market for private cars on today's busiest commuter rail routes?

What do you think?

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