1. As I said, the area is pretty rural and there's not a lot of development going on, so I doubt if there is much demand. The Kankakee bus authority for a while ran a bus from Kankakee to University Park, but it was canceled due to a lack of riders.
2. The state of Illinois' fiscal status is horrible right now, I can't see the legislature allocating any money to the Southeast Line. The further north the line goes, the closer the Southeast Line is to the Electric. Even in Crete, it's less than15 minutes to get to Richton Park.
3. Northwest Indiana is a hot place to live right now, with a lot of people moving from Illinois due to lower taxes and other concerns. St. John, just south of Dyer, is growing rapidly, along with nearby Crown Point. Lowell will eventually follow.
I took a look at River Valley Metro's website, and actually it looks like the only bus they suspended(besides all Sunday service) were routes #11 and #12. The Kankakee-University Park shuttle does still operate as of now, per RVM's page listing all routes: http://www.rivervall...com/?page_id=22
I agree with you, that the Metra Southeast Service proposal is unlikely to happen. The STAR Line was never built, and ditto with the Amtrak Blackhawk(Chicago-Dubuque) and Chicago-Davenport(and Moline) service proposals. Like you said with IL's state financial budget impasse, I won't hold my breath Metra Southeast Service will happen anytime soon, if ever. I agree with you it'd be redundant, if the South Shore West Lake line is built to some extent. Wherever it's built to in the end, since I'm not 100% sure if it'll go to Dyer or Lowell.
Just a regular express service to O'Hare Transfer and an extension of the people mover to the station eliminating the annoying shuttle bus ride would be a good and relatively inexpensive start. The people mover extension is already in the works, so most of the work would be on METRA side.
The freight railroad that owns the tracks the Metra North Central Service(NCS) runs on(I forget who it is, Canadian Northern or Canadian Pacific? I always get the 2 mixed up), is to blame with how VERY limited service is on this line. To the point that the last southbound weekday Antioch train(departing at 7:02pm) running south on this line, is cruelly rerouted at the Prairie Crossing junction(south of Grayslake-Washington Street) over to the Milwaukee District North tracks, to get back to Chicago Union Station! It only stops at Libertyville and Lake Forest, then runs express(this is no joke!) back to downtown Chicago.
This same company also owns the tracks the Heritage Corridor(Chicago-Joliet, with service to Summit, Willow Springs, Lemont, Lockport, and soon also Romeoville), dragged their feet for years on Metra's request to add a 4th pre-rush hour outbound train on Heritage. This new train run ONLY began service just over a year ago, if I recall correctly. Previously the only way you could ride this line and spend a little time at any of the stops(and when you were done at whatever stop, ride Heritage one more time to Joliet, then transfer there for an inbound Rock Island train to Chicago), was when Metra ran adjusted earlier outbound schedules on certain holiday weekends(i.e. December 24th, New Year's Eve(12/31), July 3rd, etc.).
As for the people mover between the terminals, I heard somewhere that there was going to be an extension constructed between where it ends now, up to the O'Hare Transfer Metra station. I have no idea of the timetable of this extension, though. The O'Hare Express train has always been a pet dream project of Mayor Emanuel for many years, though I doubt it'll ever occur. Since AGAIN, I go back to (sadly) knowing that whatever freight railroad owns the track NCS runs on, will likely make it very tough to approve any commuter rail expansion proposal over those tracks. Knowing how the current 7:02pm Antioch train going southbound doesn't run on the NCS tracks between Grayslake-Washington St and Franklin Park-Belmont Ave, but that instead at Prairie Crossing junction it's rerouted to the Fox Lake line to run into Chicago.