Discussion related to commuter rail and rapid transit operations in the Chicago area including the South Shore Line, Metra Rail, and Chicago Transit Authority.

Moderators: JamesT4, metraRI

  by eolesen
 
Increasing frequency for workers won't increase ridership. You'll dilute existing traffic from adjacent frequencies.

Leisure riders won't suddenly start taking the train because it leaves an hour or less earlier than the existing schedule. They have that flexibility.

Let's also not pretend that "people who most need public transit" are suddenly living 20+ miles away from downtown in $300K+ homes with $8K+ property tax bills.

That's who benefits the most from Metra's legacy diesel lines and the SWS/NCS...

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  by justalurker66
 
eolesen wrote: Thu Aug 18, 2022 6:59 amIncreasing frequency for workers won't increase ridership. You'll dilute existing traffic from adjacent frequencies.

Leisure riders won't suddenly start taking the train because it leaves an hour or less earlier than the existing schedule. They have that flexibility.
The right train at the right time will increase ridership. People will make some adjustments to make their trip fit the train schedule but there are limits. If I could drive for an hour or take a 45 minute train ride I would probably choose to drive if the train ran two hours before my desired arrival time. "Leisure" does not mean people don't have schedules.

I generally choose not to ride the train if I am not sure that I can get a ride back home on the train. Last train outbound at 6pm doesn't create a leisurely trip where one doesn't have to watch the clock to see when they have to leave town.

I am not saying ridership will double if frequencies double ... but the trip has to be convenient in both directions.
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
From Imlauer Pitter Hotel Salzburg---

Wouldn't it be "sport" if METRA had these problems. Yesterday, riding from Munich to Salzburg, the Railjet (OBB; with Siemens equipment that, unlike Amtrak, "works") train had people sitting on the floor (had a seat with two English speaking gals, a kid, and a wonderful dog "who couldn't get enough petting).

No one lifted my ticket to boot and its still good.
  by Jeff Smith
 
My take:

New coaches: Good

Old coaches: Bad

Service Frequency: Good

Ridership: may be slow returning, but it will

Salzburg: Sehr Schoen!
  by MattW
 
It's not the best comparison, but it's the best one I have any kind of concrete information on, but when NCDOT's Piedmont service went from two to three trains, I believe the ridership nearly tripled, 6,000 to 15,000 if I recall correctly. Is commuter rail a different beast? Yes. Is it still similar? Yes. People want convenience, they want to be able to make the shorter trips, they want to know that if they had to leave early for some reason, that they can. They want to know that if they decided to spend a night in town, that they can. There is certainly a point of diminishing returns, but I don't think METRA is anywhere near that yet. Maybe with their equipment they are, DMUs or EMUs would certainly be better for quick, frequent all day service, especially if the train lengths are demand-adjusted. But look at SunRail which runs two cars.
  by justalurker66
 
And now we have discussed the importance of having the right frequency of service we can get back to the car order.

Metra trains need to have (minimum) an engine and a cab car. On the electric district the minimum is two cab cars facing opposite directions. To provide service Metra needs to have cars in the right place for each train ... which means either having a yard where cars can be stored near where the run begins or running empty cars from a yard further away. Depending on where you are on a line you may see half empty or nearly empty trains. On a morning inbound those cars may fill at stations closer to downtown. On a morning outbound those cars may not be used but will be needed when the train becomes a morning inbound. Metra Electric District does not need to worry about engines as each car has motive power and every pair has a cab at each end, but the other lines need to make sure they have an engine for every train and a cab car for every train.

Metra's daily service pattern matches their ridership ... mostly an inbound commute with some reverse commute service. The reverse commute service can be a train set that was used for an early morning inbound run. The set runs outbound and then can run inbound again. How many cars are placed on each train needs to match the highest usage expected. How many cars are available needs to match the peak usage including additional cars and trains for special events.

I believe 200 cars is a good order size to replace the existing equipment and have enough cars to cover all service needs.
  by eolesen
 

MattW wrote:It's not the best comparison, but it's the best one I have any kind of concrete information on, but when NCDOT's Piedmont service went from two to three trains, I believe the ridership nearly tripled, 6,000 to 15,000 if I recall correctly. Is commuter rail a different beast? Yes. Is it still similar? Yes. People want convenience, they want to be able to make the shorter trips, they want to know that if they had to leave early for some reason, that they can. They want to know that if they decided to spend a night in town, that they can. There is certainly a point of diminishing returns, but I don't think METRA is anywhere near that yet. Maybe with their equipment they are, DMUs or EMUs would certainly be better for quick, frequent all day service, especially if the train lengths are demand-adjusted. But look at SunRail which runs two cars.
The only way that comparison comes close to valid is if the average trip length is 35 miles or less, and it's not on NCDOT....

Going from 2 to 3 trains cut waits by 4+ hours. Adding a train fit a clear need.

Metra is past the point of diminishing returns. They have a pattern of service that fits demand, like it or not. They also have 40 years of their own traffic data to go by for modeling that demand.

Going from 2 hours to 30-60 minutes is a solution creating a bigger problem. The weekend trains hold 600 or more seats where only 100 or so are being filled consistently. Adding more trains won't stimulate an incremental 100 seats an hour... What will happen is you'll take one train holding 100 and perhaps carry 150 at twice the cost.

That makes zero economic or environmental sense...


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  by eolesen
 

justalurker66 wrote:How many cars are placed on each train needs to match the highest usage expected. How many cars are available needs to match the peak usage including additional cars and trains for special events.

I believe 200 cars is a good order size to replace the existing equipment and have enough cars to cover all service needs.
Yup. 200 works.

Hopefully it forces a bit of reviewing consist sizes. From visual observation on the UPNW, they haven't changed train length on specific trains in over 20 years. Weekends always have 9 cars needed not. Locals have five or six. Expresses have seven to 11.

Equipment pairings also haven't changed in 20 years. The same inbounds turn the same outbound. It's probably been that way for 40 years, since the schedules haven't materially changed since before RTA was created.

That's probably my biggest gripe with RTA. The amount of actual changes they've introduced are minimal. They're now relying on Federal grant funds to cover basic operating expenses. That money will run out soon enough.

Something has to change.

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  by west point
 
Any new order for METRA electric needs space and provision for the cars to be easily converted to dual voltage . The present DC and any future 25 kV AC.
  by justalurker66
 
west point wrote: Sat Aug 20, 2022 11:46 pmAny new order for METRA electric needs space and provision for the cars to be easily converted to dual voltage . The present DC and any future 25 kV AC.
The Alstrom cars will not be used on MED so no issues there. If METRA converts any of the diesel lines to electric they can use electric engines in place of the diesels. If the battery operated engines work it would save the cost of catenary and not require modifications to the new coaches.

I don't see the point of converting MED from DC to AC and if METRA makes that decision they should be responsible for any costs it causes their tenant railroad, the NICTD South Shore (although NICTD has converted their powered cars from DC to AC traction using inverters installed on each car).

The loss of NS Rochelle has led to NICTD leasing the 26 cars METRA purchased in 2005. That brings NICTD's fleet up to 40 cars to cover the South Shore route while the single level cars are rebuilt and will be used on the new West Lake route.
  by hxa
 
eolesen wrote: Sat Aug 20, 2022 1:13 pm Adding more trains won't stimulate an incremental 100 seats an hour... What will happen is you'll take one train holding 100 and perhaps carry 150 at twice the cost.

That makes zero economic or environmental sense...
No. Because base frequency is cheap compared with peak services.

https://pedestrianobservations.com/2018 ... expensive/
  by eolesen
 
That "analysis" only looks at the capital costs of equipment.

It doesn't address energy or labor, which are arguably the largest costs that any railroad has right now. Additional frequencies are going to drive higher crew costs than they have today, and it's going to use more fuel or electricity.

For all intents and purposes, I consider locomotives and rolling stock as a sunk cost.
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
OK; I'll concede either things have gotten better - at least on mid-week Wednesday.

Taking my walk, I noted the lot at Clarendon Hills 230P was some 2/3rds full; same with permit spaces along Burlington Ave.

Even the Lion's Club has about three customers; their lot is closer to W. Hinsdale.

Of course, those on an RTO3X regimen will find Wed to be a peak day.