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Metra keeps many Hyde Park stops in revised Electric Line schedule after riders balk

The changes will take effect when people return to their daily commutes after the stay-at-home order is lifted.

A Metra Electric train pulls into the University Park station.
Metra restored many Hyde Park stops to its revised Electric Line schedule after riders complained.
Sun-Times file

Riders’ complaints saved many Hyde Park stops in a new Metra Electric schedule announced Thursday. The changes will take effect after the stay-at-home order is lifted.

The news was music to the ears for Dave Sacks, who depends on the train to get to his job as a fundraiser at the University of Chicago.

“It makes all the difference. Those stops in Hyde Park are so important to so many people who work for the university and other employers in the area,” said Sacks, 36. “It’s not just about getting downtown.”

Changes to the schedule were made due to the federally mandated implementation of positive train control — a system that prevents crashes. The downside to the new system: it decreases the number of trains that can operate during rush hour, forcing Metra to retool schedules.

Stops in Hyde Park for a number of trains were on the chopping block under a proposed draft of the schedule released in February that condensed the traditional three groupings of suburban stations it served during rush hours to two groupings, leading to longer trips for most customers.

The draft remains largely intact with one major tweak announced Thursday: more stops would be added in Hyde Park to trains headed to the city from the south suburbs. The tweak was made after hearing strong feedback from riders, many of them from Flossmoor, who commute to and from Hyde Park.

Here’s a rundown of the new Hyde Park stops.

  • For trains arriving downtown between 6:30 and about 9:30 a.m., four inbound suburban trains will stop at the 51st/53rd station (there were three in the draft), 12 trains will stop at the 55th/56th/57th station (there were 14 in the draft) and 11 trains will stop at 59th (there were three in the draft).
  • For trains leaving downtown between 4 and 7 p.m., one outbound suburban train will stop at the 51st/53rd station (there were none in the draft), 13 will stop at the 55th/56th/57th station (there were 11 in the draft) and one will stop at the 59th station (there were none in the draft).

“As part of the new schedule, some trains will make more stops and take slightly longer to get downtown,” Metra spokesman Mike Gillis said. “And we’re adjusting the size of trains to make sure there’s no crowding issues.”

Metra ridership has decreased by more than half since the state issued a stay-at-home order to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Metra temporarily cut its train service by half last month.

“The new schedule will go into effect when we restore full service after things return to normal,” Gillis said, “Hopefully sooner rather than later.”