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Metra to close ticket office in La Grange’s newly renovated Stone Avenue station

Stone Avenue Metra station in La Grange. (Pioneer Press/Chicago Tribune)

It’s a sign of the times that the Metra ticket office in La Grange’s Stone Avenue train station will close in August, and more closures at other stations are likely.

The Stone Avenue ticket office will no longer be manned starting Aug. 4.

Purchases of tickets at ticket offices are declining at stations across the Burlington Northern Santa Fe line, said Mike Gillis, a Metra spokesperson. The decline is attributed to more customers using their mobile devices to make purchases.

"About a third of all our customers are using apps," Gillis said.

Metra executive director Don Orseno said technology is changing the way customers buy tickets.

"We continue to look for ways to be more efficient with our limited resources and eliminating ticket agent positions at stations where sales aren’t high enough to warrant staffing is simply a good business practice," Orseno said.

Waiting for a train Tuesday to go to a White Sox game, Daniel Kelly and Colin Gies, both of La Grange Park, said they will not miss the ticket office.

"I think it’s useless to have a ticket agent on site because a lot of times it’s closed and everyone’s using their mobile phones today," Kelly said. "It’s a waste of a salary."

Although the ticket office is closing, passengers will continue to have access to the station, where more than 1,000 people board each weekday, according to Metra.

In May, customers at the Stone Avenue station purchased a total of 1,391 tickets for the entire month, the second lowest number of tickets sold at all 13 stations staffed by an agents on the BSNF line to Aurora.

The sales, which totaled slightly more than $57,318 in May, were among the lowest on the line, Metra reports. The station with the lowest ticket sales was Berwyn, which had about 131 fewer tickets sold than the Stone Avenue station.

The Berwyn ticket agent is remaining open. Metra already eliminated ticket agents in Riverside and Brookfield, the two towns bordering Berwyn.

The Stone Avenue station is a Romanesque-style building that dates from 1901, and recently underwent a $1.1 million renovation, with more work is slated to be done.

The project was funded with grants from the federal government and from the West Suburban Mass Transit District.

The project included replacing the roof, refinishing the wood and installing a new sign and landscaping.

Other details remain to be completed including repair and restoration of the station’s terrazzo flooring, and installation of five recycling/refuse receptacles and eight benches.

Metra is supplying an additional $77,754 grant to pay for the new flooring, trash and recylcling receptacles and benches. No matching grant from the village is required.

Gillis said the ticket office was not part of the renovation project, and that the money spent on the renovation is not a waste.

"The station is remaining open," he said. "The renovated facility will be much more convenient for commuters."

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