Metra has finalized its revision of the Metra Electric Line schedule, making several adjustments to the initial proposal in response to customer feedback at informational meetings and via email. The new schedule will start on Sept. 11. Click here to see the new schedule. Please note, on the printed schedules that have been distributed, stops from 107th through 63rd, as well as 47th, 27th and 18th, should be marked as flag stops on weekends. The online version is correct.
The most significant changes between the proposed version and the final schedule are the restoration of one late-night outbound train on the South Chicago Branch and the restoration of service on Saturdays on the Blue Island Branch, albeit reduced to four inbound and four outbound trains. Other modifications to the proposed schedule include different departure times and/or different station stops on certain trains to accommodate a variety of customer concerns.
“We have taken all the feedback we received from customers regarding our proposed new schedule and made adjustments where possible,” said Metra Executive Director/CEO Don Orseno. “The goal of this process was to create a schedule that uses our trains in a more efficient way and enhances service without impacting our budget. We are trying to stem the loss of ridership on the Metra Electric Line, which has been declining for years.”
Ridership on the Metra Electric Line has declined nearly 14 percent over the past six years, down 1.4 million passenger trips, or 61 percent of the total decline in ridership systemwide, since 2011. But recent data indicates that ridership at the three Hyde Park stations (51st/53rd Street, 55th/56th/57th Street and 59th Street) has increased 7.6 percent over the past three years.
Metra unveiled a proposed new schedule in May that adjusts service to better reflect ridership demands and anticipated development in Hyde Park; maintains nearly all rush-hour train service on the Metra Electric mainline; and improves midday service at stations on the South Side of Chicago between 63rd and Kensington; and made other changes to address gaps in service and simplify the schedule and stop patterns. The original revision also proposed to eliminate or combine lightly used weekday trains, mostly on the Blue Island and South Chicago branches, and eliminate all service on the Blue Island Branch on Saturdays due to low ridership.
After unveiling the initial proposal, Metra held four informational meetings about the proposal in June and also accepted emailed comments. Several changes were made in the final version in response to that feedback. The most significant changes include:
- South Chicago Branch Train 349, which leaves Millennium Station at 11:10 p.m., was added to the schedule. Metra had proposed to end South Chicago Branch service after 8:50 p.m. but restored one later train in response to many customers who wanted later service.
- Four inbound and four outbound trains were restored to the Blue Island Branch on Saturday during the most heavily used times.
Other modifications to the proposed schedule, all in response to concerns raised by customers, include different departure times and/or different station stops on certain trains. They are:
- Trains 302 and 202 will depart earlier to arrive downtown before 6 a.m. to accommodate riders making early job starts.
- Train 204 will not stop at 47th Street or 18th Street, matching the current schedule, to speed Blue Island trips.
- Train 106 will add a flag stop at 63rd Street to provide an option to Mount Carmel students.
- Train 500 will not stop at 107th Street through 75th Street, 47th Street or 27th Street, similar to the current schedule, to speed the trip.
- Train 752 will depart one minute later to facilitate transfer from Train 502, which will depart two minutes earlier, to allow 502 customers to transfer to 752 and have a quicker trip.
- Trains 754 and 734 will add a flag stop at 63rd Street to accommodate Mount Carmel students.
- Train 504 will not stop at 107th Street through 95th Street, 47th Street or 27th Street or to speed Blue Island trips.
- Train 506 will depart five minutes earlier and will not stop at 91st Street through 83rd Street or 75th Street, to speed Blue Island trains. This will also facilitate the transfer to Train 706 for customers who want express service.
- Train 508 will add flag stops at 27th Street, 47th Street and 18th Street to speed Blue Island trips.
- Train 205 will depart five minutes earlier to accommodate change to Train 506.
- Train 125 will depart 10 minutes later and make a flag stop at 63rd Street to accommodate Mount Carmel students.
- Train 127 will add a flag stop at 63rd Street to give an option to Mount Carmel students.
- All trains will depart and arrive 20 minutes earlier to better serve downtown events and jobs that start and end on the hour.
Metra Electric Line customers are encouraged to review the final new schedule to see if their trains have been changed. Please note, on the printed schedules that have been distributed, stops from 107th through 63rd, as well as 47th, 27th and 18th, should be marked as flag stops on weekends. The online version is correct.
Some of the major changes between the new schedule and the current schedule include:
- Improved midday service to Hyde Park – Inbound trains will arrive at the three Hyde Park stations every 20 minutes and outbound trains from downtown to Hyde Park will depart about every 20 minutes. There are currently gaps of up to 60 minutes in each direction.
- Improved midday service to mainline stops from 75th to 111th streets – Trains will arrive every hour, instead of every two hours.
- Elimination of a gap in inbound service on the mainline – The current schedule has a nearly one-hour gap between Train 742, which leaves University Park at 5:48 a.m., and Train 700, which leaves University Park at 6:40 a.m. Train 106, which now leaves University Park at 6:34 a.m., has been inserted between those two trains and will instead depart University Park at 6:12 a.m. Schedules of other trains were adjusted to accommodate customers using Train 106’s current schedule.
- Elimination of lightly used trains on the branch lines – Lightly used trains on the branch lines, mostly early morning and late evening trains, will be eliminated, including Blue Island Branch Trains 200, 244, 245, 246, 247, 248, 249, 250 and 251 and South Chicago Branch Trains 300, 330, 346, 347, 348, 350, 351 and 353. Many of these trains carry only one to two customers per day. Taken together, these trains carry an average of fewer than 10 passengers per day.
- Alternative public transportation options to serve the branch line stations and eliminated trains include a variety of CTA and Pace buses. In addition, Metra’s Rock Island Line is an alternative for some Blue Island Branch customers.
- Trains 331 and 604 will also be eliminated, though Trains 329 and 504 can serve passengers from those trains.
- Combining two trains on the mainline into one train – Inbound mainline Trains 738 and 758, which have similar schedules but serve different stations, were combined into one Train 738 to serve all stations formerly served by the two trains. Similarly, outbound mainline Trains 739 and 759 were combined into one Train 739.
- Adjustment of Saturday service – Saturday service will be scaled back to better match demand. However, the line will continue to have more Saturday trains than any other Metra line. On the mainline, the number of trains will drop to 40 from 46, while on the South Chicago Branch, the number of trains will drop to 32 from 48 and on the Blue Island Branch, the number of trains will drop to eight from 30. By comparison, the BNSF Line, Metra’s busiest, has 28 Saturday trains. The proposed revisions will keep the same level of Sunday service on the Metra Electric Line, though some train times will be adjusted. The Blue Island Branch currently has no Sunday service.