Proposed changes to the Metra Electric Line schedule would boost service to the Hyde Park neighborhood while slashing lightly used trains on the Blue Island and South Chicago branches.
The new schedule, which wouldn’t affect ticket prices, could be finalized and implemented by late summer, according to a statement from Metra.
“We need to do something to stem the loss of ridership on the Metra Electric Line, which has been declining for years despite the fact that the line has the newest cars and most scheduled trains on our system,” Metra CEO Don Orseno said.
Electric Line ridership has fallen off by 1.4 million passenger rides since 2011, a decline of about 14 percent, according to the transit agency.
Under the proposed schedule, the three Hyde Park stations would see 18 inbound midday trains arriving every 20 minutes, up from as few as nine trains in the current schedule.
“My community has been advocating for increased service on the Metra Electric Line for years,” state Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie (25th) said. “This is a good first step toward increasing Metra Electric ridership.”
Metra is banking on a 7.6 percent increase in Hyde Park station ridership to continue as it has the last three years. It’s also anticipating growth as a result of “more than 1,700 residential units [that] have been planned or recently constructed” in the neighborhood.
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Midday service also will be boosted at mainline stops between 75th and 11th streets, with six inbound and outbound trains arriving on the hour.
Trains on the chopping block — which are mostly early morning and late evening trains — include Blue Island Branch trains 200, 244, 245, 246, 247, 248, 249, 250, and 251; and South Chicago Branch trains 300, 330, 346, 347, 348, 349, 350, 351 and 353. Trains 331 and 604 also would be eliminated, though trains 329 and 504 can serve customers around the same time.
The changes scale back Saturday service, eliminating all Blue Island branch trains. Sunday service will be at the same level, with some times adjusted.
The trains that could be cut carry an average of less than 10 passengers per day, with some carrying only one or two. Metra officials say CTA and Pace buses, as well as Rock Island Line trains, can serve as alternatives for most of the eliminated routes.
“Metra will continue to refine the Metra Electric Line schedule in the years to come based on changing demand in the service area,” according to the statement.
Copies of the proposed schedule are being distributed on Metra Electric trains and at downtown stations. Metra will hold public meetings to discuss the possible changes from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on June 19 at the South Shore Cultural Center, 7059 S. South Shore Drive; June 20 at Flossmoor Village Hall, 2800 Flossmoor Road; June 21 at Blue Island City Hall, 2434 Vermont St.; and June 22 at the Polsky Exchange at the University of Chicago, 1452 E. 53rd St.
The schedule is also posted on Metra’s website. Comments can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.