Metra calls on riders to help it create new schedule, meet demand

“This survey will help us create schedules that do the best job possible of meeting the changing needs” of Metra riders, said Jim Derwinski, Metra’s CEO and executive director.

SHARE Metra calls on riders to help it create new schedule, meet demand
Elevated view of Metra trains, taken Oct. 22, 2015.

Metra wants riders to answer an online survey to help it adjust future schedules.

Sun-Times file

Metra riders will have a chance to help create new schedules for each of the 11 train lines as the agency looks to rethink how it serves its customers as the COVID-19 pandemic wanes.

Riders are asked to take a survey that will be used to determine future schedule changes and upgrades. They will need to share their riding habits, including their usual trains, the platform where they board and which station they get off the train.

“This survey will help us create schedules that do the best job possible of meeting the changing needs of ... Metra riders following the pandemic,” said Jim Derwinski, Metra’s CEO and executive director. “We promise that we will consider every suggestion; however, we cannot promise that we can accommodate every one of them.”

Riders will be asked about their preferred arrival times in the morning, departure times in the evening and their use of any connecting services. Customers also will be asked about their most important scheduling features.

Ridership among all public transit systems has significantly dropped during the COVID-19 pandemic and has been slow to recover.

Metra cut its schedules to about half of normal as ridership dropped with the onset of the pandemic and has adjusted its schedule line by line depending on factors like ridership or where its workforce could support an increase in service.

Metra provided nearly 2 million passenger trips in May, according to the most recent monthly report available. That is more than double the number of rides of May 2021 but still far less than the 6.2 million passenger trips it provided in May 2019.

During Metra’s board meeting on Wednesday, Derwinski said there are signs of increased ridership but acknowledge the need to be nimble as ridership has changed. On Tuesday, he said, Metra had 131,000 passengers.

“That’s a new high since the beginning of COVID,” Derwinski said. “Yesterday, as well, we hit a high for a weekday on [Union Pacific North], which hit 56% of pre-COVID numbers, so we continue to watch line by line.”

Derwinski credited the recently redesigned mobile app for the increase in rides and Metra’s ability to collect data for future scheduling purposes, but still urged feedback from riders.

The survey can be completed at metra.com/survey.

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