In a related article...
Metra short on space as passengers flock to trains
Transit agency repurchased 1950s-era cars to help
By Richard Wronski | Tribune reporter
11:35 PM CDT, June 19, 2008
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/loca ... 2345.story
With too many riders and not enough train cars, Metra is a victim of its own success.
Ridership has grown steadily for years, but with gasoline prices soaring and highway projects like the Edens Expressway reconstruction fraying nerves, Metra is carrying record numbers of passengers. Passengers face standing-room-only conditions on many lines, while some communities—particularly southwest suburbs—are clamoring for more trains.
Continuing a trend, Metra ridership in April was 4.8 percent higher than the same month in 2007. Ridership in January jumped 17.8 percent from 6.5 million passenger trips in 2007 to 7.7 million for the same month this year.
The agency is hamstrung by a lack of equipment to accommodate more passengers and demands for new service, officials said. Metra Executive Director Phil Pagano said there aren't enough spare cars to meet current needs.
The equipment shortage is so bad that Metra repurchased five 1950s-era cars that it sold to a Virginia commuter line several years ago.
Transit officials say their biggest problem is the lack of a statewide public works funding program.
Passengers on jammed Union Pacific District North line trains got a bit of a reprieve in May when additional cars were added to rush-hour trains. And weekend trains were added to fill hourslong gaps on the Union Pacific North and Milwaukee District North lines.
Both actions were in response to chronic crowding exacerbated by commuters fleeing Edens reconstruction.