Here are the main points from the proposed schedule change that I discovered.
- Current midday service is 1 train per hour express to/from University Park, 1 train per hour local to/from South Chicago, and 1 train per two hours to/from Blue Island, express in between downtown and 57th St, and local in between 57th St and Kensington. The proposed schedule adds a Kensington local train every 2 hours, running on the hour that the Blue Island train does not. This provides hourly service to the local stations between Kensington and 57th St, while maintaining service every two hours on the Blue Island branch.
- Midday departures from Millennium would be evenly spaced, every twenty minutes, as opposed to the current schedule that has 3 departures in fifteen minutes, then 45 minutes of no departures. Similarly, inbound trains wold depart Hyde Park stations every 20 minutes as well. One University Park train, one south Chicago train, and one Blue Island or Kensington train. For Hyde Park passengers, this is good.
- Midday University Park express trains would stop at 59th St, 57th St, and 53rd St in Hyde Park, as opposed to only 57th St with the current schedule.
- Midday South Chicago trains would not flag at 18th St and 27th St, as they currently do.
- Midday Blue Island trains would stop or flag at all stations between downtown to 57th St, unlike the current schedule where they stop at McCormick Place only.
- Midday outbound University Park trains would discontinue flagging 63rd St.
- 111th Street will no longer be a flag stop for the local trains during the midday. I guess Metra wants everyone to stop and admire their newly painted station shelter.
- All except one round trip of the late night and early morning Blue Island to Kensington shuttle trains would be eliminated. All South Chicago to 63rd St shuttles would be eliminated.
- An extra outbound morning South Chicago train would be added, departing Millennium at 6.15 AM. The train currently arriving South Chicago at 5.55 AM would originate at Millennium, not 63rd St, and would be pushed back a few minutes.
- The outbound rush hour would remain practically identical, expect 739 and 759 would be combined into a Harvey and Flossmoor zone express train. Maybe the equipment would be combined into a giant 12 car train
- Train 106 would depart University Park at 6.12 AM instead of 6.34 AM to eliminate a gap in service. Instead of being an all-stop local, it would become an express train after Kensington. Local stations after Kensington would be served instead by a Blue Island train that is currently express beyond Kensington.
- Inbound trains 738 and 758 would be combined into a Harvey and Flosmoor zone express train.
- All inbound morning rush hour trains from Blue Island would be local after Kensington. Currently, some of these trains run express after Kensington. As a result, the current Kensington local train 604 would be eliminated, with the local service operated by a Blue Island-originated train.
- Evening inbound trains 232 and 236 from Blue Island would would no longer express after 57th St. They would be changed to locals.
- RIP Saturday Blue Island branch service.
- Saturday and Sunday schedules would be very similar, with some trains operating on both Sat and Sun, and some only Sat. The practice of running a weekday schedule on Saturday with a modified rush hour would cease.
- Saturday service would be scaled back, although hourly service would still be provided on the South Chicago branch and mainline. Express trains to/from University Park would run every other hour, with Kensington local trains operating to serve the local stations.
- Sunday service remains unchanged.
I see some positives and negatives to the proposed schedules. The new schedule clearly benefits Hyde Park passengers. Having trains evenly spaced every 20 minutes to/from downtown is a significant upgrade. Having all three Hyde Park stations available for all trains will also benefit these passengers, giving them other options than just 57th St as it currently is. The schedule also benefits passengers using 75th St through 111th St stations. I don't know how many people actually use these, but the introduction of the Kensington locals on the hours without Blue Island trains gives hourly service. In my opinion, Blue Island branch passengers will be negatively impacted the greatest, specifically off-peak riders. Morning rush hour commuters on this line will face longer ride times as many trains will be changed to locals, unless they transfer to an express at Kensington. And Saturday riders are at a complete loss, but Metra claims that only 100 people used Saturday Blue Island trains anyway. University Park mainline riders wouldn't be impacted too much. The elimination of the hour gap in morning service may benefit some commuters, but riders of 739/759 and 738/758 may face a more crowded train.