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I heard a rumor from a conductor last night that there would be, or were potential, service cuts on Metra coming in September, at least my line (guess which one, I dare you). I couldn't find anything from a quick googling last night, has anybody else heard anything or does anyone have something concrete one way or another before I start bugging my elected officials - one of whom claims to want more (frequent) service.

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Your line, of which I guess would be Metra Electric Line, runs daily. If cuts were to happen (unheard as of last December when I was there), you would have gotten a notice. But I say bug your reps and the senators just in case.

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Your line, of which I guess would be Metra Electric Line, runs daily. If cuts were to happen (unheard as of last December when I was there), you would have gotten a notice.

 

Cuts can mean something other than going from daily service to weekday-only service. Cuts could mean 5% fewer trains each day (for example). If they're scheduled for September, there wouldn't be a notice this far in advance.

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Considering our Saturday schedule is only slightly less than the weekday schedule I am not worried about that being cut too much (it serves tourist traffic in additional to "local" on weekends) though a reduction in the number of reverse commute express trains, unless needed for repositioning trains could be eliminated. I would expect some of the evening rush trains to be combined (in other words, the four express trains between 5:38-5:48 would be reduced to two or something) and some of the earlier express trains to become local.

 

I did suspect that the roundhouse gossip was unreliable, but I did see some references in old (2016) links to service reductions. The local media regionally won't cover my line very much at all and my local paper is inept and too busy with nimby issues, lost cats and the Obama Library proposal.

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Metra announced the proposed service cuts today. The cuts all involve South Chicago and Blue Island branch trains. On the chopping block are the 4:39 a.m. departure from Blue Island and all trains departing Blue Island after 7:41 p.m. Southbound Blue Island trains to be eliminated are 9:11, 10:11, 11:11 p.m. and 12:11 a.m. departures from Kensington.

In addition, all Saturday service will be eliminated on the Blue Island branch.

Up for elimination on the South Chicago branch are the 4:53 a.m.departure from 93rd Street and all trains after 9:09 p.m. Southbound eliminations would be the 9:39, 10;39, 11;39 p.m. and 1;07 a,m departures from 63rd Street.

 

The 7:31a.m. northbound from Kensington would also be cut, along with the 4 p.m. South Chicago train from Randolph Street.

To counter some of the criticism from these cuts, Metra is promising 20-minute headways from all three Hyde Park stations (59th St., 55th-56th-57th St. and 51st-53rd St.). I assume this would be accomplished by adding 59th and 51st street stops to the non-rush hour main line South Suburban and Blue Island trains which currently only stop at 57th.

 

Metra officials say the affected trains carried an average of less than 10 passengers each.

 

I predict there will be a lot of complaints about the South Chicago cuts, but nobody will care about the Blue Island cuts. There's been lots of talk about "transitizing" the South Chicago branch through making fares even with the CTA and increasing service. Perhaps the best use of this line in the future would be its conversion to a light rail line connecting with the CTA Green Line at 63rd Street.

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You beat me to posting on this. They were passing out proposed schedules in the downtown stations last night.

 

The biggest change is a huge reduction in Saturday service and elimination of Blue Island weekend service.

 

Elimination of the big daytime gaps is a good thing - should have been done a long time ago.

 

Also good is an additional outbound evening train (after 7:20 the trains went hourly with a transfer to the South Chicago branch, there are now two 20:00 trains proposed, an 8:20 and an 8:50, which for Hyde Park is a huge improvement, though not so great for the SC branch).

 

I don't see any infrastructure changes coming any time soon - there is no money in Illinois and Chicago for it at the moment from what I can tell. Supposedly the CTA supports some sort of conversion (whether it is only in the fare's or otherwise, I can't say), but I suspect their support is on paper only since there is no money earmarked for it yet and it's cheap to say we support something.

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The fate of the South Chicago branch has been much discussed over the years. There's been all kinds of proposals, but never any official action. It's kind of an oddball route for Metra since it is located entirely within the Chicago city limits. It would work much better as some kind of CTA operation, but a transfer of ownership would be complicated and expensive and will take a lot of pushing by neighborhood advocates to get any changes.

As far as the Blue Island branch is concerned, it just doesn't have much ridership and most of that is on weekday rush hour runs. Quite a few Rock Island District riders connect to the Electric at Vermont Street to arrive closer to work locations near Michigan Avenue and the area north of the Chicago river. The on-line neighborhoods along the branch are areas in decline.

Hyde Park looks to be a growing area with new developments, so the increased service should be popular. Hyde Park also has a lot more political clout than surrounding neighborhoods, so that could account for Metra making a big deal about adding service. The South Shore and South Chicago neighborhoods are places in decline. They have a lot of potential for future development, but that may be many years in the future. It will interesting to see how this all plays out.

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Metra Electric has the infrastructure to provide excellent service - frequent trains without any freight or intercity passenger train interference. But it's difficult for commuter railroads to provide decent off-peak service as long as they remain stuck in the early 20th century model of over-staffed trains with multiple conductors/assistant conductors checking and collecting tickets - like virtually every North American commuter railroad.

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So, I suppose I should do my long put off weekend ride of the entire I.C. soon, eh?

 

(And I've been meaning to get down to the fish place near the end of the South Chicago branch some Saturday, also.)

 

I do dislike the idea of service which ends too early in the city, as it makes actually going out anywhere evenings and returning almost impossible. Not to mention that some workers don't get off their shifts until after 10, 11, or Midnight. As such, the city becomes increasingly inaccessible, overall.

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Consider yourself lucky. You could be living in Houston. A public transit disaster, although they're trying to make it better.

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I'm going to have to look more closely, at the revised schedule that's been proposed. PDF file link from Metra's site, anyone?

 

I am disappointed that all Blue Island branch service will be eliminated on Saturday. IMO, there should be at least a little service between the Electric and Rock Island lines, so that you don't have to go all the way downtown and out again just to switch Metra lines. Yes I won't deny the ridership is low, but I still don't think it justifies eliminating all Saturday Blue Island branch service. I do weekend pass trips from time to time, and at times I have the Blue Island branch as a shortcut to get over to Rock Island. That'd be a shame, if all Saturday BI branch service was eliminated for good. I looked again at the current Metra Electric schedule, and I'd accept it if the Saturday frequency was reduced to 2 hours all day on the BI branch. It shouldn't be totally eliminated, that's for sure.

 

Also, all South Chicago service would be no more after 9pm going inbound, back from 93rd to downtown Chicago on weekends? That's a shame, since sometimes I have ridden the SC branch from 93rd back to Chicago(both weekdays and weekends, but mostly weekends) after 9pm at times. I will email Metra, to say these cuts are a little too much. Maybe I'm in the minority, in thinking that the schedule isn't too bad as it is? I don't mind if service frequency was reduced slightly(to 2 hours) on weekends on the SC and BI branches, but it's annoying to think they want to eliminate all late night service just for extra Hyde Park service. I probably would be less opposed to these changes, if they'd keep the current late trains on the SC branch, and not eliminate all Saturday BI service.

 

Would like to see a pdf file(if it's on Metra's site) to review over all the changes, then send an email with my thoughts. Do they really need 20 minute headways on the main Electric branch on even weekends, outside of weekday rush hour? I'm a little skeptical of that, though I could see a few extra runs on weekends during certain daytime hours(like every 30-45 minutes). I guess I'm in that minority, for being a little upset that all Saturday Blue Island branch service would be eliminated. And that they'd cut back how late South Chicago service will run(less in the minority here).

Edited by dogbert617

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Do they really need 20 minute headways on the main Electric branch on even weekends, outside of weekday rush hour? I'm a little skeptical of that, though I could see a few extra runs on weekends during certain daytime hours(like every 30-45 minutes).

 

It looks like weekday only - the current schedule is listed as Monday-Saturday and we'll be on a M-F/Weekend schedule assuming this goes through. Hyde Park ridership has apparently gone up even though the big increase in residential units hasn't happened yet (one large high-rise under construction and another one approved), plus a new one which has recently gone online. South Shore also got the BRT lite Jeffrey Jump which may have cannibalized some riders. People in Hyde Park are thrilled to have 20 minute headways, but I think it may engender/create anger, resentment and bitterness elsewhere. There is a ginormous development planned (multi-decade in fact) near the south end of the South Chicago branch which may change their metric in the future. I would expect with the Obama Center and the redevelopment of the golf course in Jackson Park that South Shore (which is already seeing increased rents and has seen some large apartment complexes sold for increasing sums) will begin to demand more transit, but as yet their bus lines aren't overcrowded and traffic isn't too bad (except downtown). All of MED would have higher ridership if the lakefront express buses were eliminated (one wonders if 20 minute headways will lower daytime bus usage on the #6 which is the primary express from Hyde Park downtown).

 

A "CTA conversion" creates all kinds of headaches and problems. How to handle the South Shore Line and suburban services to start, they would need to be separated for fares. And of course, most of the stations would require rebuilding to allow staff kiosks and faregates (ours were removed ten or so years ago and were a big hassle since they were always broken and the stations unmanned). It's a bigger capital cost than it's proponents realize or admit. Plus it's separate from the rest of the CTA network, heavy rail rolling stock, FRA regs, etc.

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So the new schedule starts September 11. The weekend, or at least Sunday, service on the Blue Island branch has been saved from what I hear. There is a lot of grumbling that this is "only" to service the Obama Presidential Center at 63rd Street - which hasn't even been designed beyond a concept yet. Although the OPC (as it's called) may drastically change traffic patterns on the south side due to street closings through Jackson Park which may increase train ridership since traffic through the park may be snarled permanently and several bus routes drastically changed or truncated (yet to be determined, obviously).

 

I will be eager to see if the 20 minute schedule does anything to daytime ridership - i.e. increases.

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Took a ride on the I.C./ME yesterday. It was heartening to see conductors, car staff, and even engineers who have seen each other regularly offer well wishes and say goodbyes at their final crossings of paths. A reminder of the close knit community of railroading.

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Took a ride on the I.C./ME yesterday. It was heartening to see conductors, car staff, and even engineers who have seen each other regularly offer well wishes and say goodbyes at their final crossings of paths. A reminder of the close knit community of railroading.

 

5 or 6 years ago one of the rush hour conductors was retiring and this group of women had brought cupcakes for the entire half of the car in his honor!!!

 

So the new schedule is in effect as of this morning, the train seemed a lot more crowded than usual, but the run I was on was a super-limited which got me downtown faster (i.e. skipped several stops). But then again the holidays are over so downtown is a lot more crowded today too. It'll take a few days to get used to the new schedule.

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So the day and a half report: trains are busier due to eliminations and there is some confusion (partially, imho, due to Metra not doing a good job with onboard announcements beforehand, before the schedule change, though they were passing out tons in the stations) even seemingly among(st) conductors. But nothing terrible - the biggest confused rider issue I saw was someone who didn't normally ride trains, or at least ours, and was not sure which train to board and what the fare zone was.

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Apparently the diesel services are facing an equipment shortage.

If I remember rightly they have ordered some and are getting some returned from a lease/loan (but that doesn't sound right).

I've been planning a charter on them and that's the biggest roadblock they've given me. I've since fixed it with an E8 and E9 but it's still strange. But I think you'll like what I'm announcing tomorrow.

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Not related to Metra Electric(where no changes have occurred since the September 2017 service revisions), but as part of the 2018 budget a limited number of trains were eliminated or combined together(rush hour express trains). Those service eliminations started yesterday, as of 2/5/18. The cuts or combinations(into one train, for rush hour express trains) occurred on the North Central Service(Antioch), Milwaukee District North(Fox Lake), Southwest Service(Orland Park/Manhattan), and Rock Island(Joliet) lines. List of all the cuts and combined trains is on this pdf: https://metrarail.com/sites/default/files/assets/riding-metra/combined_schedule_adjustments_feb2018.pdf

 

And not a service cut, but the Romeoville station has finally entered service on the Heritage Corridor line! Good to know. And new schedule: https://metrarail.com/sites/default/files/metra_79899_fm90_tt_joliet_proof_hert_corr_v2.pdf

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Apparently the diesel services are facing an equipment shortage.

If I remember rightly they have ordered some and are getting some returned from a lease/loan (but that doesn't sound right).

I've been planning a charter on them and that's the biggest roadblock they've given me. I've since fixed it with an E8 and E9 but it's still strange. But I think you'll like what I'm announcing tomorrow.

 

We never did get "that announcement tomorrow". Everything fall through?

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