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  #15141  
Old Posted Sep 19, 2020, 10:58 PM
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The current chair (a friend of mine) is a guy who grew up on the IC and also knows the value of frequent, regular service. It was during his term that schedules were tweaked to give Hyde Park 20-minute service most of the day, and fares from city stations reduced.

But people forget that the Great Schism of 1983 gives ALL city tax support to CTA. Metra gets not one dime from residents of Chicago, except any fares they might pay. Selling a bunch of Chicagoans seats to ride a few miles at half the cost of providing those seats is just not a smart move, especially if it leaves those who actually pay the bills standing in the aisles leaving Ogilvie. (Well, we can dream that such days come again.)

The South Cook Fair Transit Pilot Project (organized by another friend) looks very promising, but it's not Metra who's been standing in the way of that. It's CTA.
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  #15142  
Old Posted Sep 21, 2020, 3:36 PM
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Yes, the insane turf battles cut both ways, nobody is blameless here. I don't know Metra or CTA leadership well enough to call out any specific bad-transit attitudes recently, and a lot of it comes from electeds. When Pat Quinn's panel suggested reforming the structure of RTA to allow more regional cooperation between service boards, it was Mayor Emanuel who told the panel to go piss off. Clearly he didn't want to surrender any measure of control over CTA, even if the city stood to gain better service from Metra in the process.

As for "standing in the aisles" - that's just a fact of life for urban rail service. Standing was very common on the regional rail systems I used in Europe (RER, FL Lazio, etc), at least at peak times, and even sometimes on intercity trains like TGV. The "everyone gets a seat" attitude of commuter rail is hideously expensive and inefficient. I'm not sure there's a good way to sugarcoat this reality.

Ultimately Metra needs to move to a culture more like CTA where able-bodied people stand and reserve seats for elderly and disabled people when required. Having to stand on a train all the way to Libertyville or Joliet is no fun, but realistically longer-haul commuters will find seats quickly as the train thins out. Standing can also be made more pleasant by abandoning the obsolete, 1950s gallery car design (why does each car need fully enclosed vestibules?)
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Last edited by ardecila; Sep 21, 2020 at 3:47 PM.
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  #15143  
Old Posted Sep 27, 2020, 4:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ardecila View Post
...
As for "standing in the aisles" - that's just a fact of life for urban rail service. Standing was very common on the regional rail systems I used in Europe (RER, FL Lazio, etc), at least at peak times, and even sometimes on intercity trains like TGV. The "everyone gets a seat" attitude of commuter rail is hideously expensive and inefficient. I'm not sure there's a good way to sugarcoat this reality.

Ultimately Metra needs to move to a culture more like CTA where able-bodied people stand and reserve seats for elderly and disabled people when required. Having to stand on a train all the way to Libertyville or Joliet is no fun, but realistically longer-haul commuters will find seats quickly as the train thins out. Standing can also be made more pleasant by abandoning the obsolete, 1950s gallery car design (why does each car need fully enclosed vestibules?)
I'd love to see at least the busiest Metras lines given cars more like Caltrain in the Bay Area. Maybe not as rapid transit-like as Paris' RER but less like the current Metra cars.
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  #15144  
Old Posted Oct 1, 2020, 4:25 PM
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VivaLFuego VivaLFuego is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ardecila View Post
As for "standing in the aisles" - that's just a fact of life for urban rail service. Standing was very common on the regional rail systems I used in Europe (RER, FL Lazio, etc), at least at peak times, and even sometimes on intercity trains like TGV. The "everyone gets a seat" attitude of commuter rail is hideously expensive and inefficient. I'm not sure there's a good way to sugarcoat this reality.

Ultimately Metra needs to move to a culture more like CTA where able-bodied people stand and reserve seats for elderly and disabled people when required. Having to stand on a train all the way to Libertyville or Joliet is no fun, but realistically longer-haul commuters will find seats quickly as the train thins out. Standing can also be made more pleasant by abandoning the obsolete, 1950s gallery car design (why does each car need fully enclosed vestibules?)
Expectations of comfort also relate to
(1) fare levels (absolute and relative)
(2) desirability of the product relative to alternatives

Expecting many people to stand for a 30-45 minute ride with perhaps ~10-15 minutes of access time at either end and a $6.25 fare each way isn't very competitive if they can just drive 45 minutes in relative comfort and park for $20, with their fixed car ownership costs already covered.

On many lines pre-Covid, I think lots of inbound rush hour trains tended to be pretty close to 100% seated loads by the time they reach zone B, certainly in the more desirable end of the train (i.e. the first 4-5 cars closest to the terminal).

In places where fuel prices and car taxes are much higher, the calculation is a bit different.
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  #15145  
Old Posted Oct 5, 2020, 1:07 PM
Tcmetro Tcmetro is offline
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Pace proposing to make the Covid service reductions permanent for 2021. Pretty much all the Metra shuttles would be gone as well as the express buses between the south and the west/northwest suburbs (757/877/888/895). Some various other service reductions, which I imagine are the same as the current Covid reductions. Will be interesting to see if these are permanent or if these routes would come back as ridership ramps up. I'd imagine that Pace would like to prune some of these routes, because they are generally low performers.

https://www.pacebus.com/news/virtual...ed-2021-budget
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  #15146  
Old Posted Oct 5, 2020, 2:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by emathias View Post
I'd love to see at least the busiest Metras lines given cars more like Caltrain in the Bay Area. Maybe not as rapid transit-like as Paris' RER but less like the current Metra cars.
Caltrain literally has the exact same cars as Metra! The seating arrangement is a little different and there is more bike storage (surprisingly well used by reverse commuters to get to dispersed Silicon Valley jobs).

Quote:
Originally Posted by VivaLFuego View Post
Expectations of comfort also relate to
(1) fare levels (absolute and relative)
(2) desirability of the product relative to alternatives

Expecting many people to stand for a 30-45 minute ride with perhaps ~10-15 minutes of access time at either end and a $6.25 fare each way isn't very competitive if they can just drive 45 minutes in relative comfort and park for $20, with their fixed car ownership costs already covered.

On many lines pre-Covid, I think lots of inbound rush hour trains tended to be pretty close to 100% seated loads by the time they reach zone B, certainly in the more desirable end of the train (i.e. the first 4-5 cars closest to the terminal).

In places where fuel prices and car taxes are much higher, the calculation is a bit different.

In my years of riding UPNW I always saw standing passengers going to/from Zone B or even Zone C. Not uncommon for Edison Park passengers to stand. It was actually worse off-peak since trains only ran hourly with strong demand and made all stops... the rush hour trains tend to be targeted at certain zones and ran express past others, so Zone B/C passengers would seek out certain trains over others.

I do think the Metra fares should probably come down a bit if it is moving to a regional rail model (i.e. true public transit), which of course means a deeper public subsidy. Right now the fares seem deliberately priced to keep out low-income riders.
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  #15147  
Old Posted Oct 8, 2020, 7:40 PM
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A nice and brief update on NW Indiana’s transportation projects:

https://www.chicagobusiness.com/crai...thwest-indiana

Quote:
Two big rail projects are right on track.

The new eight-mile West Lake extension of the commuter South Shore Line will run from the Illinois-Indiana border in north Hammond to the Munster/Dyer border. The $933 million project is being financed by state, local, and federal funds. Approval of the federal funds is expected within weeks.


Four new rail stations will be built along the West Lake line. This includes a gateway station in Hammond.

"Our overarching goal is to develop real estate near the rail stations," Hanna says. New development zones are being created adjacent to the rail stations. The zones will eventually provide revenue for further public improvements such as roads and utilities.

Hanna notes that Northwest Indiana is a desirable location for families. The area offers a good quality of life with low taxes, excellent schools, reasonably priced housing, and proximity to Lake Michigan.


Mike Noland, president of the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District.
Construction of the West Lake project is expected to begin in 2021, with completion in February 2025. The new rail line will serve 7,000 riders a day.

"Connecting the business community and citizens of Northwest Indiana
Looks like there is still a strong push to expand and improve the rail connection to Chicago, as well as create more housing opportunities around new stations
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  #15148  
Old Posted Oct 9, 2020, 4:41 AM
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West Lake is good to see I guess, but it's just another sprawl feeder. I guess maybe it can get a few downtown commuters to switch to rail? And it's electrified so there's an environmental benefit.

Despite what the article says, the TOD plans around the stations are kind of a joke... Hammond WOULD be a good TOD site, but they're moving the station even further from downtown (home of the fantastic 18th Street Brewery) and tearing down several blocks of houses, urban-renewal style. Guess I'll just keep biking from the city for those sweet brews...
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  #15149  
Old Posted Oct 9, 2020, 6:49 AM
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^^ Yeah I think it’s ridiculous they’re skipping having a station in downtown Hammond.
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  #15150  
Old Posted Oct 10, 2020, 6:44 AM
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Hi all,

Here a video of new CTA 7000s series. This is for testing only, but not in service yet.

Video Link
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  #15151  
Old Posted Oct 10, 2020, 4:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ardecila View Post
Caltrain literally has the exact same cars as Metra! The seating arrangement is a little different and there is more bike storage (surprisingly well used by reverse commuters to get to dispersed Silicon Valley jobs).

...
They used to, and maybe some still are, but the last two times I was there they had cars that I rode in more like Toronto's GO trains.
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  #15152  
Old Posted Oct 10, 2020, 8:32 PM
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Soon to be not like either as the new Stadler electric multiple units come on line.
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  #15153  
Old Posted Oct 10, 2020, 9:01 PM
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Soon to be not like either as the new Stadler electric multiple units come on line.
Electrification will only run to Tamien so Calltrain is going to keep the Bombardier bilevel cars for service down to Gilroy from San Jose IIRC.

I expect Metra to be highly interested in the gallery cars that will soon be surplus.
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  #15154  
Old Posted Oct 20, 2020, 2:36 PM
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Preckwinkle moves to slash fares on Metra's Rock Island and Electric lines
A three-year pilot program will proceed, even though the CTA still is not aboard, the Cook County chief says.

Despite continuing concerns from the Chicago Transit Authority, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle is plowing ahead with a pilot program under which fares will be slashed on Metra lines on the South Side and nearby suburbs.

Under the plan, which is expected to come before the Metra board in November and be implemented “in early January,” fares on Metra’s Electric and Rock Island lines will be cut in half, making them price competitive with CTA service. The pilot is set to run for three years, but according to the county will be periodically reviewed.

Metra will not be adding more trains, at least for now, but the plan also includes expanded service on Pace’s 352 Halsted line between the CTA’s Red Line station at 95th Street and Pace’s Chicago Heights terminal.

All of this will be funded by the county, with Preckwinkle including $30 million in the proposed fiscal 2021 budget she unveiled earlier in the week.

Preckwinkle has been pushing the concept of the pilot test for at least two years, arguing that South Siders are relatively underserved by public transit and spend more of their income on rides than North Siders. But the CTA has continued to balk, fearing the pilot could divert riders and millions of dollars in fares at a time when it’s trying to sustain its service.

https://www.chicagobusiness.com/greg...electric-lines
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  #15155  
Old Posted Oct 20, 2020, 3:43 PM
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Definitely kudos for Preckwinkle on this move.
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  #15156  
Old Posted Oct 20, 2020, 5:09 PM
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As a downtown to Hyde Park commuter (in normal times... sigh), this is welcome news!
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  #15157  
Old Posted Oct 24, 2020, 6:39 PM
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Looks like there's a chance Rockford and Huntley may get Metra service instead of Amtrak service. If MD-W does get extended, it would travel the same distance as the South Shore Line does from South Bend to Millenium Station.

Huntley may get a Metra or Amtrak stop with new passenger rail project
Quote:
After multiple false-starts, Huntley is on track to get a Metra or an Amtrak stop as plans to reconnect Chicago and Rockford by train move forward for the first time in decades.

The Illinois Department of Transportation took an important next step in the push to restore passenger rail service between the two cities when it reached an agreement to hire a new project manager, state Sen. Steve Stadelman, a Rockford Democrat, said in a news release.
....
"Having train connections between Chicago and Rockford, with Rockford being one of the major cities in Illinois outside of Chicago, it provides tourism and business connections," Speegle said. "We do not currently have train service in that north, northwest part of Illinois ... so that's one of the reasons why this project is so important."

In past iterations of the movement to bring passenger rail service through Huntley, it was always Amtrak that was being considered, Mayor Chuck Sass said Monday. After attending a virtual meeting with local mayors, IDOT officials and state Sen. Don DeWitte, a Republican from St. Charles, Sass said Metra service is now a very real possibility.

"It was a complete surprise," Sass said. "I thought it was going to be on Amtrak, and here it was more about Metra. The way it sounded, they're talking to both of them still, but it looks like Metra is more in the lead position now."

Metra service would be more beneficial for Huntley's commuters because trains would run more frequently as compared to Amtrak, which was offering stops only a few times each day, he said.

One complication with getting Metra service from Chicago to Rockford is Belvidere and Rockford are not a part of the Regional Transportation Authority that includes Metra, Sass said. Including them would likely require residents in those areas to pass a referendum agreeing to pay a tax to the agency, he added.
https://www.dailyherald.com/news/202...r-rail-project
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  #15158  
Old Posted Oct 24, 2020, 10:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Randomguy34 View Post
Looks like there's a chance Rockford and Huntley may get Metra service instead of Amtrak service. If MD-W does get extended, it would travel the same distance as the South Shore Line does from South Bend to Millenium Station.
Likely an admission that IDOT has finally given up on negotiations to eventually extend the planned Blackhawk corridor service to Dubuque, IA. Canadian National's open hostility to passenger rail continues unabated.

Either way it happens, there's been a need for rail service between Rockford and Chicago since forever.
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  #15159  
Old Posted Oct 25, 2020, 2:16 AM
Chicagoguy Chicagoguy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Randomguy34 View Post
Looks like there's a chance Rockford and Huntley may get Metra service instead of Amtrak service. If MD-W does get extended, it would travel the same distance as the South Shore Line does from South Bend to Millenium Station.

Huntley may get a Metra or Amtrak stop with new passenger rail project

https://www.dailyherald.com/news/202...r-rail-project
Is there any idea as to where the line would run in Rockford? It seems like it might be beneficial if there was a connection to the airport. They would likely be able to attract additional low cost carriers that might be looking to expand their presence in the area (post-COVID).
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  #15160  
Old Posted Oct 25, 2020, 3:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chicagoguy View Post
Is there any idea as to where the line would run in Rockford? It seems like it might be beneficial if there was a connection to the airport. They would likely be able to attract additional low cost carriers that might be looking to expand their presence in the area (post-COVID).
That’s a waste of money. Tens of millions for a marginal boost at best. It’s not like many airlines or people go that far out of their way for cheap flights at Gary, South Bend, or MidAmerica.

They’d be leasing the existing tracks along the old Chicago and Galena Division route with a station at the Southern edge of downtown, I presume.

https://chicagology.com/wp-content/t...enachicago.jpg
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