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posted: 4/11/2012 3:21 PM

Metra to post meeting info ahead of time

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Commuters can now arm themselves with information about pertinent issues the Metra board will vote on in advance of any decisions.

Until now, details about contracts, budgets and other operational concerns have been hard for the public to access.

This week, Metra is posting a comprehensive agenda on its website with links to documents and reports.

"One criticism when I came on board was that the agency had a history of not being as transparent as it could be," CEO Alex Clifford said Wednesday.

"We're going in the direction of providing as much information as possible. People can come to the meetings armed in advance and can speak to whatever issue is on their minds."

For example, at Friday's board meeting, directors are expected to discuss plans to renovate Union Station. Details of the presentation are available at metrarail.com/content/dam/metra/documents.

The new format should also reduce the number of Freedom of Information Act requests, officials said. The agency recently added a FOIA hotline to handle questions at (312) 663-3642 or (312) 663-FOIA.

In addition to contract and purchasing information, commuters will also be able to review on-time performance reports and ridership numbers.

The information will typically be posted the Tuesday before a Friday meeting or by 9 a.m. Wednesday at the latest.

Metra is also gearing up for whatever security issues arise with the NATO summit coming to Chicago May 20 and 21.

The agency should be able to let riders know of any major service disruptions related to the conference by the end of April, Clifford said.

For more information on Friday's board meeting, visit metrailrail.com. Click on the "About Metra" tab, go to "Board Meeting Information," and select Friday's agenda.

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