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: metraRI, JamesT4

  by Tadman
With the Dan Ryans 6-lane shutdown coming very soon, does anybody find it disconcerting that Metra and CTA aren't taking any measures to help us frequent I-94 motorists? I would ride either between downtown and 95th street if there was a guarded large parking lot there on either Red (95th), RI (79th), or ME (113th), but there's not - instead just the roughest neighborhood in town. With this collosal traffic jam approaching, Chicago really needs a solution.

  by doepack
The closest thing even remotely resembling inner city service on Metra is the ME corridor between 75th St. and Kensington. Not only are the stations small, dingy, and unattractive (not to mention non-ADA accessible) but parking is pretty much minimal to non-existent, unless you're willing to take a chance on parking in the immediate neighborhood, which can be risky. Except for a newly expanded parking lot at RI's Washington Hts station, parking is very limited at the other stations along the Beverly branch with no immediate room for expansion in most cases, and as a result, the RI district isn't really capable of handling additional traffic effectively. And it's a shame too, since this route operates in the immediate vicinity of I57/94. Metra is currently advertising transit alternatives to Dan Ryan motorists on its website, but overall, serving inner city residents is something that Metra doesn't do very well, they pretty much stick to the suburban market. Given Metra's limitations in this regard, it will fall to CTA and/or Pace to provide more (and in some cases better) options for Chicago's south side residents...

  by Rockingham Racer
What are they doing to that damned highway NOW? . The last time they screwed around with the highway, Metra 'paved' [with gravel] a parking strip between 119th and 123rd on the Bev Sub. Plenty of parking there; no one used it at all!

  by byte
I think they're doing general resurfacing (hopefully they'll put concrete down rather than asphault so it'll last twice as long...). The first thing (that I can remember) that kicked off the major Dan Ryan happenings was actually rerouting the Red Line tracks onto the lefthand shoulders, so the CTA could get their rehab done. Since then, some of the ramps have been closed for rebuilding* and lane closures happen due to work they're doing on the viaducts. Nothing as drastic as the upcoming closures has happened so far, though.

*Never, EVER offer/get conned into being the "navigator" on a trip downtown for a friend who's never driven on the Dan Ryan before, during this whole reconstruction phase. Instead, just offer to drive. It will save you one hell of a headache.

  by Tadman
byte I can feel your pain while acting as navigator. that sounds like pure hell to me.

  by MetraBNSF
This report appeared on WBBM newsradio 780. Lots of interesting tidbits.

-Ridership up 8.7% overall in January compared to a year ago.

-Weekend ridership up 30%. Those that used 10-ride tickets are not taken into account.

-10-ride ticket sales increased 27% in January, more than the 25% increase prior to the last fare increase.

-Past chicago expressway reconstruction projects have failed to produce any sizable increases in ridership.

-Cars scheduled for retirement have been retained to assure that additional capacity will be available.

The entire article can be read here:

  by metraRI
It will be interesting to see if RI will get any 10 car sets if ridership increases enough. All though I dont know if there is any room for longer sets in Joliet.

  by metraRI
"Metra expects three of its commuter routes to have a surge in ridership: the SouthWest Service, Rock Island District and Electric lines.

Metra executive director Phil Pagano said 17,000 empty seats are available on the three lines combined. He said Metra could add two more trains a day on each of the lines if they are overwhelmed with Ryan refugees."

  by doepack
Due to a largely unfavorable route alignment when compared to the Dan Ryan, SWS is very limited in terms of how many regular Dan Ryan commuters it can reach. Those looking to SWS as an alternate can either access it in the city at Wrightwood, and perhaps those commuters living in the vicinity of the far south suburbs of New Lenox or Joliet, who would normally use I-80 to/from I-90/94 could instead use the new Manhattan station or perhaps 179th/Orland Park. Those two stations could potentially ease the parking strain on the nearby RI stations, since that line has a little more service, and it's likely more regular Dan Ryan commuters will choose RI as their designated Metra alternate. SWS could play a larger role, but the problem is, most of the stations are too far west for SWS to even be considered as a viable Dan Ryan alternative, you basically either have to live along the route's southern end, or in the vicnity of 79th/Western...

  by Tadman
Anybody try driving the d*mn ryan yet? I'm making my first trip thru at 10pm tonight on purpose and taking Skyway/Stony/Lakeshore. Although my office is in Chicago Heights, so I may start taking the ME and leaving my car at 211th - anybody know if the neighborhood kids are reputable for breaking into cars there, or have a better suggestion? I've also though about CSS to Hegewisch, as that's not a bad area from what I've seen.

  by PRRGuy
Good luck finding a parking spot in either hegewisch or hammond. Both lots are usually full by the end of rush hour. Best bet for parking is east chicago, and that lot has been filling up too.

  by Scotty Burkhardt
211 is a safe bet. I've parked there many times and have yet to have/hear of a problem.

  by Gilbert B Norman
Today's Wall Street Journal has an article establishing that some, even when confronted with "The Mother of all Chicago road construction projects" (thank you Saddam for inspiring that quote), there are some that only with great reluctance will give up their autos for a daily commute.

Even if gasoline goes to $4/ga or higher this summer, there are going to be some middle class folk, who simply WILL NOT make alternate transportation arrangements away from their Ford Expedition and GMC Yukon

Brief passage:

  • -- Ann Schue used to cherish the time she spent alone in her 2003 Ford Expedition during her 90-minute morning commute to her job at the University of Chicago. Nestled in heated leather seats, she planned her day while listening to the news.

    Not anymore. Massive construction work on one of Chicago's main highways has forced her to trade the peace of her sport-utility vehicle for the clatter and crowds of a double-decker commuter train....Chicago is the rare Midwestern city with pervasive mass transit, including buses, elevated trains and regional commuter rail. But it's also typically Midwestern in that many residents so love their vehicles that they'd rather sit in traffic burning up $2.99-a-gallon gasoline than go near a bus stop or train platform.....

    The change for many of the new [METRA] riders is wrenching. David Pettiford, 25, used to drive his Dodge Durango SUV 20 miles from his home in the south suburbs to his job at a truck-brokerage firm on Chicago's north side. Work on the Dan Ryan added up to 20 minutes to his usual one-hour commute. His wife made him switch to the Metra, which takes about an hour, because she was "sick of me complaining about the commute" and gas prices. "I would rather drive," he says.
For those with access to the Journal's subscription site (thanks boss?), here's the "rest of the story'. It's also down at your newsstand for a buck.


  by doepack
I read the whole article, and I found it a bit amazing that one of the women interviewed was a lifelong Chicago area resident in her early 40's, and yet, she had NEVER been on a train before. Overall however, it's glaringly evident that despite the many infrastructure upgrades and service improvements by CTA, Pace, and Metra over the years, the minor inconveniences and small sacrifices some drivers have to make to use public transportation is too much of a hassle, even among those that live within a few blocks of a train station. Despite the rising cost, these folks aren't giving up their comfort or privacy for anything, and since that myopic view is shared by many other motorists, mass transit will continued to be treated like a dirty beggar when it comes to proper government funding. Oh well. Long live King Automobile...

  by metraRI
It looks like additional riders on RI have had some sort of an impact, as today train #409, 4:35 departure, had 10 cars. This is the 1st 10 car train on RI in at least 7 years. In 1999, train #411 ran with 10 cars, #413 ran with 8, both are now 9 cars. 412 was leading the train, which arrived into Mokena 5 minutes late.