This was one of my favorite stations, and with the police station there I considered it a safe place to stop while railfanning. I've stopped there often and walked the platform from end to end to take photos. And a public restroom is welcome.
Gary seems a bit seedy at times - I suppose no place is 100% safe.
Gary is just like any other city in America, safety all depends on how safe you actually feel with the inhabitants around you. however in Garys case I remember a few yrs back a report was released per square mile Gary IN was the most dangerous city in America when it came to murders (yet Detroit always held the overall top position as most dangerous respectively) and in the same year and less than 60 miles away from Gary, Naperville IL was rated #3 in the top 100 best place to live.
For once you lurker I share your view on the east Chicago station, I visited that station often as I had family in Schererville and would often use the east Chicago station and ask them to pick me up from there when I would visit them and did not fell like driving to IN. I always considered it one of the safer SS stations as it housed the small yet seemingly always empty police station yet cameras are placed all over the station and platform. As you said no matter what you are never 100% safe. Ive driven to the East Chicago station to take pictures as well on days off when passing by and since I drive a Lexus if this gentleman was targeted for an Accord, I will be a bit more vigilant & cautious now.
Garys station from what I remember, the debate it between the city and SS line as the city has its own plans for the station but not the funds, In turn the SS skipped any preliminary plans for Gary and as so forth been working on the rest of its stations on the line. Its a shame the Gary station has become such an I sore. However as Ive visited the station in the last few months I can say it will need more work than just the platform raised and extended.
1) The connecting metro center platform walkway IMHO, was/is a major blunder. How it is currently While in the metro center you need to travel up stairs to the second level to access the walkway then travel across the walkway which brings you back down to ground level when you reach the actual SS platform, in which you then need to travel up a story and 1 & 1/2 story of stairs again to get to the SS platform ( elevators are available but take my word you really don't want to use them). The up-down-up, is ridiculous like you said Tadman someone took a $1 million idea and tried to make it into a $10 mill idea. The walkway should have been left at ground level with a crosswalk made over the bus laneway connecting it to the metro center instead of it currently going over the bus lane, To me anyway that would have made a lot more sense.
2) The walkway is not heated or air conditioned so you can imagine the temp in there on a 100 degree day in the summer or below 0 in the winter, it also wreaks of a moldy smell.
3) The bus terminal setup is horrible too may turn around and not enough places for the buses to wait (will be explained later).
4) No passenger side shields along the trackage, I do believe passengers would appreciate a wind barrier between the northern platform track and the tollway. PS: One Would also be nice at the East Chicago station as well.
5) The sculpture level ( 3rd level in the metro center) should be opened and utilized for waiting passengers and TV screens added in there to pass the time.
The metro center is sort of the black sheep and the area around it does not help with abandoned apartment buildings and vacant houses around, the area seems non inviting. The Metro center could be a fine inter modal station, If you could get say the towns around the area to come together and have a feeder bus service dedicated to it with park and ride lots ( Glen park, Hobart, new Chicago, Lake Station,& Merrilville) buses pick up at park and ride lots and feed directly to the Metro center non stop. However with the SS expected 2 new rail lines that bus feeded initiative would be overly optimistic. Introduce more local Gary city bus services that feed into the metro center with the current SS schedule as well as access for megabus and dare I say it....Free Enterprise bus System. This however would need a reformed & replaced bus loading and standing area. The potential is there in my opinion for Gary to not be the step child and to 2x its passenger volume its just the vision and funding are not available.
I took this pic AUG 2012 from the Gary Platform ( drove to the station in my Lexus ) even though the sign does says "welcome to Gary" its not a warm welcome in the metro center at all.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected] ... /lightbox/