Metra is introducing a second Bike Car on the Milwaukee District North Line, which will allow it to offer the amenity on more weekday trains and on Sundays. The cars, part of a pilot program that will last into the spring of 2021, can carry 16 bicycles instead of the usual five allowed on Metra’s accessible diesel railcars.
The first car, which debuted Nov. 7, is operating on weekday Trains 2102, 2103, 2121, 2128, 2146, 2147, 2156 and 2157. On Saturdays, it operates on Trains 2604, 2607, 2614 and 2615.
The second car will operate on weekday Trains 2117, 2118, 2140, 2141, 2618, and 2153 starting Friday, Dec. 11. The second car will enable Metra to offer the amenity on Sundays on Trains 2604, 2607, 2614 and 2615.
The full schedule showing Bike Car trains can be viewed here.
The Bike Car is easily identified by its blue and grey paint scheme, as well as a large white bicycle decal adjacent to the exterior doors. Metra will post alerts to metrarail.com should a service disruption cause the cars to be out of service.
Metra chose the Milwaukee District North Line for the pilot because of the number of cyclists and reverse commuters who already use the line. The line is also close to a concentration of forest preserves and trails, such as the North Branch and Skokie trails.
As with Metra’s regular bikes on trains program, bicycles and e-scooters are welcome aboard. Gasoline-powered bicycles or vehicles of any kind are not permitted on any trains. Tricycles, tandems, trailers, bulky attachments or training wheels are also prohibited. Bikes and e-scooters are not to exceed 70 inches and are accommodated on a first-come, first-served basis. Once on board, cyclists and e-scooter users must secure their bike or e-scooter to one of the bike racks with a bungee cord or other device that they must provide.
To accommodate the additional bicycles, Metra crews removed 24 two-passenger seats on one half of the lower level of Pullman cars from the late 1960s. Seats remain on the upper level of that side of the car for customers who wish to sit within view of their bike. Metra used in-house resources to design and retrofit the car.
Metra has also temporarily relaxed its bikes on trains policy and is allowing bikes on all trains across all 11 lines. There will still be limits to the number of bicycles allowed and cyclists should be advised there is no guarantee that bikes or e-scooters can be accommodated on an initial or return trip (particularly on rush-hour trains), and crews have the right to refuse bikes or e-scooters in the event of overcrowding or depending on the needs of customers with disabilities.
Metra had planned to debut the cars earlier in 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic delayed its completion. Ridership on the line remains at a level that will allow the bike cars to be put in place while also ensuring riders can socially distance. Over the next few months, Metra will gather feedback from riders and transportation advocates about the bike cars.