Metra, Pace and Cook County will hold a town hall meeting in Harvey on June 18 to gather public input before creating a pilot program to enhance connections between trains and buses and improve access to jobs and education for south suburban commuters.
Two town halls will be held at the Harvey Public Library, 15441 Turlington Ave. The first session will be from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., and the second session will be from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The same information will be presented at both sessions.
The agencies share the goal of improving public transportation in south Cook County. They want to develop a pilot project that will:
• Improve access to employment and education for south suburban commuters
• Make transportation more affordable and convenient
• Simplify transfers between Metra trains and Pace buses
As part of the town hall event, members of the public will be asked to fill out a survey asking them to rank potential improvements to Metra or Pace and detail whether those improvements would encourage them to ride more often. The list of potential improvements includes lower fares, free/low cost transfers between transit providers, increased service frequency on Metra or Pace, faster trips, better service alignment, station upgrades, the ability to use the Ventra card on Metra, better parking and the availability of car-sharing, shuttle or other guaranteed ride between work/home and the nearest Metra station.
This effort arose from a Cook County study that focused on public transportation in the south and southwest suburbs of Chicago. The study noted that south Cook County has a greater population loss, a lower median income, a higher unemployment rate and slower job growth than the rest of Cook County. The number of jobs accessible via transit is lower than for other parts of the county, while the average commute time is longer. And ridership on the Metra Electric and Rock Island lines has fallen faster than on other Metra lines.
In response to the study, Cook County, Metra and Pace are looking for ways to improve service and access to jobs, reduce transportation costs, increase the extent to which Metra stations serve as multimodal hubs, support development near stations and increase ridership.