Union Station commuters in need of a cellphone charge can now visit one of four MobileQubes self-service machines to juice up.
MobileQubes rents a portable charger for 24 hours for $4.99, followed by up to six consecutive rentals for 99 cents a day.Or users can buy a Qube for $44.99 using a credit card.
“It means people aren’t sitting on the floor or standing around electrical outlets that were installed to run floor polishers and vacuum cleaners,” said Marc Magliari, a spokesman for Amtrak. The station closed off such outlets to commuters about a year ago because such use represented a “tripping hazard,” Magliari said.
Although all Amtrak trains have outlets passengers can use to charge their phones, “we know from our customers that some people get to a station and lose power before they can get on a train,” Magliari said.
Only those Union Station Metra trains that have been renovated feature electric outlets. However,Metra recently started looking into adding outlets or charging stations for commuters at its four other downtown stations, Metra spokesman Michael Gillis said Tuesday.
MobileQubes self-service machines are in Union Station’s Great Hall, the Food Court, the south loading area near even-numbered tracks, and the north loading area near odd-numbered tracks.
The devices can fit in a man’s pocket or a woman’s purse, allowing commuters to rent one on the trip home from work and drop it off in the morning on the way to work, MobileQubes CEO Sean Carrigan said.
For out-of-town visitors, similar stations are available at Chicago’sSheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers, 301 E. North Water St., and the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place, 2233 S. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.
The Qubes can charge any mobile phone to 100 percent power at least once, Carrigan said. Anything that can be plugged into an Apple power tip or a Micro-USB power tip also can be charged, although only to 3,000 milliamps, Carrigan said.
Kindle Fire HDs require up to 6,000 milliamps and Apple iPad Airs need more than 7,000, so the Qubes may not provide a full charge for all electronics but, Carrigan said, “if you need to get that last email out and you need a little power, you can plug it in and get a bit more of a charge.”