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Metra proposes revised Metra Electric schedule

(May 24, 2017) - 

Metra has proposed a revision to its Metra Electric Line schedule that adjusts service to better reflect ridership demands and anticipated development in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood, where more than 1,700 residential units have been planned or recently constructed.

Metra has prepared a number of documents to inform customers about the proposal, including the news release below. The information also includes:

The proposed new inbound weekday schedule

The proposed new outbound weekday schedule

The proposed new inbound weekend schedule

The proposed new outbound weekend schedule

The current Metra Electric Schedule

Questions and answers about the proposed new schedule

Alternative service for the South Chicago Branch Line

Alternative service for the Blue Island Branch Line

Copies of the proposed new schedule also are being distributed on Metra Electric trains and downtown stations. In addition, Metra will hold meetings to present the schedule changes, answer questions about alternative transportation options and gather feedback about the proposed new schedule from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on the following schedule:

  • June 19 – South Shore Cultural Center, 7059 S. South Shore Drive
  • June 20 – Flossmoor Village Hall, 2800 Flossmoor Rd.
  • June 21 – Blue Island City Hall, 2434 Vermont St.
  • June 22 – Polsky Exchange, University of Chicago, 1452 E. 53rd St., 2nd Floor

Metra will consider all comments before finalizing the schedule, with a goal of implementing the new schedule later this summer.

The proposed schedule will generally provide train service every 20 minutes or less between Millennium Station and all three Hyde Park stations (51st/53rd Street, 55th/56th/57th Street and 59th Street) until 7 p.m. on weekdays. Recent data indicates that ridership at these three Hyde Park stations has increased 7.6 percent over the past three years.

The goal of the proposed schedule revisions is to improve service and attract more customers without increasing Metra’s costs. 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.

“We need to do something to stem the loss of ridership on the Metra Electric Line, which has been declining for years despite the fact that the line has the newest cars and most scheduled trains on our system,” said Metra Executive Director/CEO Don Orseno. “This new schedule is an effort to make the best use of our existing resources by scheduling our trains in a more efficient way and enhancing service without impacting our budget.”

The proposed schedule maintains nearly all rush-hour train service on the Metra Electric mainline and improves midday service to hourly from every two hours at stations on the South Side of Chicago between 63rd and Kensington, including the newly rehabilitated 111th St./Pullman Station near the Pullman National Monument. Other proposed changes address gaps in service and simplify the schedule and stop patterns. The new schedule also eliminates or combines lightly used trains, mostly on the Blue Island and South Chicago branches, which have seen ridership decline 17.5 and 11.2 percent, respectively, over the past three years.

“My community has been advocating for increased service on the Metra Electric Line for years,” said State Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie (25th District). “This is a good first step toward increasing Metra Electric ridership. “

“Convenient and reliable public transportation options are critical for faculty, staff, students, and visitors traveling to our campus for work, class, and arts and culture offerings, as well as to our offices and other facilities,” said University of Chicago Vice President for Civic Engagement and External Affairs Derek Douglas. “We appreciate the consideration Metra has taken in revising and enhancing its schedule, which will help meet the need for more frequent transportation as the mid-South Side continues to grow as a destination.”

Some of the major changes under the proposed schedule include:

  • Improved midday service to Hyde Park – The three Hyde Park stations would now be served by 18 inbound trains (up from as few as nine trains) and 18 outbound trains (up from as few as seven trains) during the midday period between 9:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Inbound trains would arrive at those stations every 20 minutes (down from as many as 60 minutes) and outbound trains from downtown to Hyde Park would depart every 20 minutes (down from as many as 60 minutes).
  • Improved midday service to mainline stops from 75th to 111th streets – Those stations would now see six inbound trains and six outbound trains during the midday hours, up from three. Trains would 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., would be inserted between those two trains and would instead depart University Park at 6:12 a.m. Schedules of others trains would be 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, would 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, 349, 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 South Chicago and Blue Island 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 those passengers seven minutes earlier and four minutes later, respectively.

  • Combining two trains on the mainline into one train – Inbound mainline Trains 738 and 758, which have similar schedules but serve different stations, would be combined into one Train 738 and serve all stations formerly served by the two trains. Similarly, outbound mainline Trains 739 and 759 would be combined into one Train 739.
  • Adjustment of Saturday service – Saturday service would be scaled back to better match demand. However, the line would continue to have more Saturday trains than any other Metra line. On the mainline, the number of trains would drop to 40 from 46, while on the South Chicago Branch, the number of trains would drop to 32 from 48. 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 may be adjusted. The Blue Island Branch currently has no Sunday service.
  • Elimination of Saturday service on the Blue Island Branch – Metra would no longer offer service on the Blue Island Branch on Saturdays. The Blue Island Branch currently operates 16 inbound trains on Saturday, accommodating fewer than 100 total passengers from Blue Island Branch stations for the entire day, or an average of about six passengers per train.

Alternative public transportation options to serve the Blue Island Branch include a variety of CTA and Pace buses. In addition, Metra’s Rock Island Line is an alternative for some Blue Island Branch customers.

Metra will host a series of community meetings to present the schedule changes, answer questions about alternative transportation options and gather feedback about the proposed new schedule. The meetings, which will be from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., will be held at:

  • June 19 – South Shore Cultural Center, 7059 S. South Shore Drive
  • June 20 – Flossmoor Village Hall, 2800 Flossmoor Rd.
  • June 21 – Blue Island City Hall, 2434 Vermont St.
  • June 22 – Polsky Exchange, University of Chicago, 1452 E. 53rd St., 2nd Floor
     

Comments may also be sent to medschedulerevisions@metrarr.com. Metra will consider all comments before finalizing the schedule, with a goal of implementing the new schedule later this summer. Metra will continue to refine the Metra Electric Line schedule in the years to come based on changing demand in the service area.

All Metra Electric Line customers are asked to review the proposal to learn if their trains would be affected. 

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