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Metra Passenger Service Department: 312 322-6777. More contacts in Resources.

In June 2017 J public meetings/hearings about proposed Metra schedule changes that would move most non rush (early am, midday, and late evening) trains from South Chicago and Blue Island branches to the Main Line through Hyde Park to 111th Pullman (unclear how many go south of 59th as only min of 1 hr between is promised, , stopping 3 stops for HP - 51st, 55th, 59th (not sure about 47th and the other flag stops) for those time slots. This meeting at Polsky, 1452 E. 53rd St. (Nearest other is June 19 at South Shore Cultural Center). Note that this was first shopped to the legislators. Metra has and will continue to meet with the Coalition for a Modern Metra Electric.)

Release by Metra on August 16 said that in response to feedback and consideration, the following changes are made in the new schedule that goes into effect September 11 (see for schedule). Blue Island- cuts Saturday trains from 9 to 4 instead of to 0. Says these are the least used
South Shore. Cuts 8 trains (says these are least used), adjusts early morning and late evening trains to cut gaps and fit riders need to transfer.
63rd St. flag stop- adds 5 flag stops for Mt. Carmel (and presumably eventual Obama Center)

Links (thank you to Roger Huff, CMME and HPKCC representative on Metra Electric): Metra release- schedule.

Metra FAQ-

Twitter feed- @MetraMED-


Chicago Reporter on Twitter-

Major schedule shift is proposed for Metra Electric, providing the often-asked 20 minute or greater frequency midday between downtown and Hyde Park and to Pullman-111th via the mainline, and reduction of the early morning train gap. These new trains-- SHIFTED FROM allegedly-underutilzed MID-DAY SOUTH CHICAGO AND BLUE ISLAND TRAINS would serve all three of the main stations in Hyde Park, but it is unknown whether and which flag stops would remain and whether every train would continue to 111th. It adds a part of what is asked (not CTA transferability or common card, and not a shift to CTA) but weakens service to parts of the South Side. (Blue Island Saturday service would be eliminated altogether.) Ridership to Hyde Park has been going up modestly, but the branches and overall Electric District down. It would answer a demand for service to the coming Obama Center and new UC facilities and Pullman National Monument.


HPKCC late 2015/Jan 2016 has signed on to the Letter for Metra improvement and joined the Coalition for a Modern Metra Electric (CMME). The Coalition presented briefly at the May Metra meeting.

As of April 30 2017 Metra Electric riders will no longer be able to purchase tickets for cash at vending machines at any station. (This already applies to all the other Metra lines.) They will only be able to use the AP or credit card to purchase tickets from machines, or pay cash from a ticket agent (Millennium Station and Van Buren) or on board. Note that if you do not buy from a ticket agent at these two stations and pay on board, there is a $5 surcharge! Van Buren has no ticket agents on duty on Sundays and Holidays, so riders paying cash from there will have to talk with the conductor.

Here: Learn about "Gold Line" aka SECRET or or Silver or Gray Line Lite- HPKCC's and others' idea for improving Metra service--support building fast.
Visit Gray Line for another Metra upgrade plan with links to outside discussion.
South Lakefront transit study- see reports in CTA page. And part below

For Feb 2017 Fares went up $11.75 for the monthly, $2.75 for 10-ride, and .25 for on-way. Again, falling heaviest on the close in zones, said to be not carrying their percentage of fixed costs.

Fares went up Feb 1 (more than average for Hyde Park) in early 2016 and by varying amounts annually . Read about 2015 major hike.
Single ticket up a quarter, for example, and on-board purchase surcharge from $3 to 5.

Summer 2016- all kids 11 and under ride free on Metra this summer.

59th station fixup (c200,000 worth, especially the platform and embankment work) was done in fall 2015. Metra cleaned much along the station and south to 60th St. Repairs to its fence and wall are promised. Sinking walks underneath were fixed. Embankment walls rebuilding was in progress north of 51st. Ancien Cycles bike and cafe opened in the station at 53rd.

You can get Metra tickets through Ventra app if you have the right kind of smart phone. But no transfer or discount except maybe the normal through-the-Loop.

HPKCC with most other southeast and citywide transportation-interested organizations, December 2015 released a letter calling for Metra Southside Improvements. See letter and signatories. The HPKCC Board passed the Resolution at its November 2015 meeting.

HPKCC, with CECD and the Alliance for the South East testified at the Metra board meeting July 22 2015 to push for a real seamless transfer system, as in the intent of the 2011. Read background, testimony and results, and media articles in Metratransferability. We believe this is an affordability and social justice issue. More actions are underway- news coming soon.

Where to go to find out reroutes, closures etc. - NotifyChicago.
To sign up

Create account at or Twitter@CTA.

METRA FARE INCREASES COMING IN EARLY 2016 (once board approves; hearings set. Proportionally more in Hyde Park Zone B- starting with one quarter per ride/ $3.75.

Metra announced its proposal, Thursday, to increase ticket costs by 2 percent for 2016 instead of the 5 percent increase that was originally proposed.

Hyde Park riders that use the Metra Electric line could be looking at paying between 2.5 to 7.1 percent more for their commutes downtown. Currently, a one-way ticket costs $3.50, but will be $3.75 with the new rates.

For riders who use the 10-ride option, a ticket increase of $1.75 will happen if the rates are passed, and monthly passes will increase by $2.50 at $102.25 per month.

The prices do not include the $3 sub charge for buying a ticket on the train, which will increase to $5 when Metra fully implements their mobile ticketing app.

The changes in rates are much less than the 2015 increase Metra implemented this past year, which was a 10.8 percent fare increase.

Metra will host a series of hearings this month to discuss the proposal. Chicago’s hearing will take place from 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 4 at Union Station, 500 W. Jackson St. Additional hearings are scheduled to take place in Joliet, Homewood/Flossmoor, Hanover Park, Geneva and Woodstock.

Metra fares went up with several twists February 1. One reprieve- no hike in the on-board payment penalty this year. Meanwhile, there is controversy over prototype new seats and car configuration, on time performance is better this winter than in last year's vortex, ridership is down.

Summer 2014- RTA is extending renewal/switchover of the Benefit Access (was Circuit Breaker) free ride pass system for income-qualifying seniors and persons with disabilities. Those due July 1st are now September 30, those in September now November. Request has to be done online at
The service agencies are complaining about the rising costs of free rides as riders have increased since the start of the recession by tens of millions.
Metra is transitioning to a system in which people with Ventra cards can use them or contactless credit cards to pay for Metra rides. When rolled out by January, For Ventra at first it will work only from the retail credit card side, later from the debit card side.

Rich Wronski, Tribune Sept 2014 on Metra progress, or lack thereof on universal fare card or equivalent as mandated for Jan 2015. Our community organizations have been waiting to see, and are now ready to take up pressure on the issue.

BYLINE: By Richard Wronski, Tribune reporter Freelance reporter Joseph Ruzich contributed.

Accustomed to train delays, Metra riders shouldn't be shocked to learn that a long-promised test of "paperless" ticketing has been pushed back again.
A pilot program to introduce mobile ticketing using smartphones isn't likely to be rolled out until the end of the year at the earliest, more likely 2015, Metra officials said.
"When you're dealing with a project of this magnitude, it's not as easy as saying, 'Let's get it done by the end of the year,' " Metra Executive Director Don Orseno said.
Metra officials predicted in 2012 that a pilot program would be launched the following year. This January, officials envisioned having a tryout for the much-anticipated system this fall.
Now, Orseno said, mobile ticketing still isn't ready to roll out.
Meanwhile, major commuter rail systems in other places, including New York, Boston, Dallas, Portland, Ore., and New Jersey, already have introduced mobile ticketing programs.
Even the South Shore Line, which carries commuters downtown from northwest Indiana and Chicago's Southeast Side, launched mobile ticketing in June.
"Metra feels pressure to close the technology gap with the other agencies. With smartphone use now a way of life on many transit systems, the delay puts them under a microscope," said Joseph Schwieterman, a public policy and transportation expert at DePaul University.
"A faster timetable for rolling out new fare technology could freshen up Metra's image at a critical time, when its equipment is aging and ridership is flat," Schwieterman said.
Metra commuter Terrell Nix, of Joliet, agrees.
"They (Metra) need to stay ahead of the times," said Nix, 29, waiting for a BNSF train Monday at the Downers Grove station while listening to music on his smartphone.
"I think it would be a convenient way to pay for the train. Sometimes I can't get a ticket inside (the station) and they charge me more money on the trains," Nix said.
Chicago resident Ann Herbert, 65, said smartphone ticketing "is something I feel I don't really need right now."
She added, however, that it might make more money for Metra.
"Sometimes they (train conductors) miss picking up tickets when the train is crowded," Herbert said. "At least those passengers (with mobile ticketing) would still be charged for the ride."
Metra officials say they are partnering with the CTA and Pace on a smartphone-based application with a "regional" capability. The agencies are building on the Ventra card system developed by Cubic Transportation Systems Inc.
The app would allow Metra customers to download tickets onto their phones, which would then be checked by conductors. Customers could also pay for their tickets -- either monthly, 10-ride or single rides -- via their phones.
Although CTA and Pace riders use Ventra cards, they could use the phone app for trip planning, Metra spokesman Michael Gillis said.
In 2013, Metra considered hiring a Pennsylvania firm for $825,000 to revamp its fare payment structure and integrate it with Ventra. But the contract was never awarded after some Metra board members expressed concern about the firm's expertise.
The CTA said at the time that it had offered Metra the opportunity to participate in the Ventra program but that the commuter railroad declined. Metra's then-CEO Alex Clifford disputed that version, saying Metra was "an afterthought" during CTA's planning with Cubic.
"The CTA went on its journey without Metra aboard," Clifford said.
New York's Metropolitan Transit Authority has contracted with Masabi, a London-based company, to deliver mobile ticketing technology on the Metro-North Railroad and Long Island Rail Road. The company also provides mobile ticketing for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.
A smaller company, New York-based Bytemark, provides the mobile ticketing app for the Chicago area's South Shore.
Lynette Ciavarella, Metra's director of strategic capital planning, said about 27 percent of rail commuters use mobile ticketing in the Boston area, where it was introduced in 2012.
An impetus for mobile ticketing was a state law signed by Gov. Pat Quinn in 2011 that requires the RTA to "implement a regional fare payment system" for the CTA, Metra and Pace by 2015.
The general understanding of the law was that it mandated a "universal" fare card that could be used on all three transit systems. That's also how the law was described in the synopsis on the General Assembly's website.
Metra officials said that's not how they read the legislation, however.
They point to a clause that states: "The system must allow consumers to use contactless credit cards, debit cards, and prepaid cards to pay for all fixed-route public transportation services."
Metra says it already complies, before the Jan. 1 deadline, because it allows Ventra users to pay for train tickets by using the card's debit payment capability.
Metra's board on Friday approved a $300,000 contract to install 140 ticket terminals that will accept contactless credit cards like Ventra.
Twitter @richwronski

Some community organizations are contacting legislators and aldermen to query Metra about their failure to comply and what they intend to do in a way that served all customers.

South Lakefront Corridor Transit Study final report meeting. Happened. This meeting presented the project evaluation results and the draft recommendations of the South Lakefront Corridor Transit Study. The study has focused on improving public transportation and enhancing Transit-Oriented Development in order to enhance mobility for residents and increase access to jobs within the South Lakefront Corridor. It is the third in a series of meetings. We want to hear from you. Please join us for this important public meeting and feel free to invite others. Mtg. Presentation (long doc in pdf). Short.
For more information please visit our website and follow us on Facebook

WHAT happened? Final selection was not announced. There were plenteous poster boards that had additional info on selected example projects prioritized by one of the advisory groups. The PowerPoint slide shows will be posted online (not up yet July 3).
Of particular interest to HPK was the additional detail / research / estimates regarding:
--possible BRT on 55th Garfield to Midway Airport (seems to be mixed use east of Cottage to Metra) connecting with a BRT on Cottage Grove. They are seeking a 25-35% time reduction on 55th.
-Metra Grayline/Gold Line (to keep the cost estimate down they shifted the mid-day/off peak frequency from 10 min to 15-20 minute headings)

November 2012 Metra raised fares of the popular 10-day pass to the cost of 10 rides rather than 9. This is the second huge increase to Metra fares in less than a year. They said this would underwrite ongoing capital and upkeep needs. In effect Feb. 1.

Metra is starting (Nov. 2012) to put in service the new Electric line cars-- they even have electrical outlets for passengers and good toilets.

CTA, Metra, and PACE heads sent a sharp rebuke to the RTA re it's barrage that the service boards work together more and stop duplications, pointing out where they do and where it seems not practical, and pointing fingers at RTA bureaucracy and duplication with other regulating bodies (but the latter seems to be required by laws).

CTA announced in June 2012 that its decision is to close the Red Line from Cermak to 95th for rebuilding for 5 months in May 2013 rather than on weekends over four years. It is only starting the process of planning to handle the customers during that period. The all-at-once plan has met with mixed but it seems predominantly favorable response. Ideas for moving passengers, especially with a barrage of shuttle buses, particularly between the Green and Red lines has met with skepticism, including from Jon Hilkevitch of the Tribune. No one doubts the work is needed and has long been delayed. Side and parallel bus routes would have increased service, but CTA hasn't yet taken into account (or asked of Metra) how Metra could help-- Electric and Rock Island, and appears not to asked CDOT to look at what improvements or accommodations might be necessary on arterial roads (remember the Dan Ryan project?). The U of C says it is not likely to need to make changes or add direct shuttles downtown. IIT is in more of a bind. Supporters of Gold and Gray Line Metra alternatives think this is an opportunity strengthen what the call an underutilized resource part of whose customer base was taken away by the Red Line when the south branch was opened in 1969. In mid-June the CTA chief said that whatever it takes, Metra will be included in ways to serve commuters during the shutdown.

Hearings start in June 2012: June 18, Monday, 6-8 pm (doors open 5 pm). CTA Hearing on 5-month Dan Ryan Red Line closure and reconstruction. South Shore Cultural Center, 7059 S. South Shore Drive. (Alt. meeting June 21, Thursday, 6 pm at Kennedy-King College, 63rd and Halsted.) For scope etc. visit, click on "Red" then and search around for the south/Dan Ryan project.


CTA, Metra, and PACE heads sent a sharp rebuke to the RTA re it's barrage that the service boards work together more and stop duplications, pointing out where they do and where it seems not practical, and pointing fingers at RTA bureaucracy and duplication with other regulating bodies (but the latter seems to be required by laws).

Letters on proposed early 2012 increases. \ Call Metra at 312 542-8381.

Metra board November 11 gave final approval to the fare increases
At the October 14 board meeting, the following adjustments (for Nov. vote on budget- now opened for public comment and hearings) were announced:
The fare increases to go one or two zones (i.e. A to B or C) one way is $.50, for 3 or more zones is.75.

HPKCC, CECD, SOUL attended hearings and appreciate SECC's going beyond that to have a meeting with Metra, as did SOUL-CECD.

Metra's public statement (

Metra Board approves fare increases, changes in fare policies The Metra Board of Directors today approved the agency’s 2012 budget, which includes fare increases across all ticket types and a variety of other changes to Metra’s fare policies.

Starting on Feb. 1, 2012, one-way tickets will increase an average of 15.7 percent across all fare zones, while 10-ride tickets will go up an average of 30 percent and monthly passes will increase an average of 29.4 percent. Reduced fare one-way tickets will increase an average of 10.3 percent, reduced fare 10-ride tickets will increase an average of 18.9 percent and reduced fare monthly passes will go up an average of 10.8 percent. Taken together, the overall average increase is 25.1 percent. The new fare chart is attached.

Several fare polices also will change starting Feb.1. Those include:

•One-way tickets will only be valid for 14 days, instead of a year, and they will no longer be refundable.
•The 10-ride ticket discount will be reduced so that riders will get 10 rides for the price of nine, rather than 10 for the price of eight.
•Ten-ride tickets will remain valid for a year, but will only be refundable within three months of the date of purchase. For refunds on a partially used ticket, the cost of a one-way ticket from the specific zone-pair combination will be deducted for each ride taken. After the 9th ride is used, the ticket will no longer be refundable. Refunds are subject to a $5 handling fee per transaction.
•Monthly passes will be valid through the end of the month (instead of noon on the first day of the following month) and refunds will be subject to a $5 fee per transaction.
•The Metra subsidy for the Link-Up and PlusBus tickets will be eliminated and riders will have to pay the full costs of those passes. The new price of the tickets is being worked out with the CTA and Pace.
•Young adult fares on weekends and holidays will be eliminated.
In addition, Metra is immediately changing the expiration dates of one-way and 10-ride tickets in an effort to deter the stockpiling of those tickets before the fare increase begins next year. One-way and 10-ride tickets purchased from Nov. 12, 2011, though January 31, 2012, will be valid only through Feb. 29, 2012. There is no price increase for those tickets during this temporary period. Unused tickets will be reimbursed at the refund policy in effect at the time of purchase.

Metra’s 2012 budget includes $686.8 million for operations and a $244.1 million capital program. The fare increase will help cover a budget deficit next year due to a spike in diesel fuel prices, the demands of meeting new federal regulations, higher insurance premiums and a variety of other rising costs. Proceeds from the regional transportation sales tax also have fallen short of expectations due to the faltering economy. And Metra has decided to stop diverting funds from its capital budget, meant for infrastructure improvements, to plug holes in its operating budget. That practice simply is not sustainable given our critical capital needs.

Metra did reduce the deficit by $17.5 million through a variety of steps, including locking in the price of 75 percent of its fuel needs, making administrative cuts and finding other operational efficiencies. Those actions reduced the size of the needed fare increase by 7 percentage points. However, there still is a projected budget gap of $53.6 million that will be covered by the fare increase.

Tables are in (or type in above through documents then search.

Cost of Metra-CTA link up pass (paid to Metra) going up, higher proportion goes to CTA.

February 1, the cost of Link-Up connecting to CTA and PACE from Metra and sold by Metra goes up $6, from $39 to $45. The percentage to CTA increases from 70% to 85%. PACE will continue to get 15%. Link-Up serves 2.8 million CTA rides a year (88,310 passes in 2010) or less than 1% and 220,000 annual PACE rides. Still, it's important especially to many South Siders who work in suburbs and will tide over until 2015 rollout of universal cards (which fits into the Gold Line demands for improved Metra utilization). The increase in price and CTA share should raise $500,000 for CTA.

To video of the Oct. 14 board meeting-

One-way trips between 1 zone including city A-B: current $2.50, was prop $3.75 up 5o% now prop $3 (up $.50 or $20%
10-ride current $20 ($2 per ride) was prop $33.75 or $13.75 increase or 69%, now prop $27 or $7 increase or $35%.
Monthly current $63.45, was prop $105.75 or $43.30 or 69% increase, now prop $85.50 or $22.05 or 35%. Note that the monthly fare for Metra short trips will be comparable to CTA's monthly fare.

What it is now (see below for some zone numbers): one-way average increase 15.7 across the board, 10-ride increased an average of 30 percent, monthly an average of 29.4. Overall 25%. Nearest zones go up 35%, mst distant 21-24% on average.

Don't try to hoard-- all one-way and 20 ride tickets bought until Jan. 31 are valid only through Feb. 29.

Included is elimination of the discount on the extra one pays monthly to "link up" to CTA during rush hours -about $39-- Gone also is the youth discount on the weekend special (which otherwise stays the same-- staff wanted to kill that also.)

One-ways will now be valid 14 days, not a year, 10-ride gives 10 rides for the price of 9 instead of 8 and they will still be valid for a year but refundable for only 3 months. Monthly passes are valid only through the end of the month, not noon 1st day of the next month.

4-zone trips (unchanged in proposals)- go from $4 to $4.75 19%, 10-ride $32.30 to $42.75 or 32%, monthly $102.60 to $135.25 (actually 1.25 more than prev. prop) 32%.

This is still an increase on Metra Electric So. Chicago of about 23% (single A-B 20%, 10-ride 35%, monthly 35%. (The latter two are a little higher percentage increase than suburban 4-zone increase.) Average system wide increase is 25%, effective budget impact total 21% ($56.1 million).

Weekend fare stays $7, but young peoples discounted is gone. It seems the 10-ride stays as is, staff still wants to cut one ride out of it (to max. 9 rides)- not sure if will be changed. But costs for 10-ride and monthly passes were adjusted for equitability. There will be annual inflation adjustments to all fares from now on. The relent was made possible by locking in 75% of diesel fuel costs at about 40 cents below anticipated 2012 market average (brought to their attention by advocacy groups). Note, Metra will take measures to prevent people stockpiling fares. The budget does NOT transfer capital budget into operating this year- to honor commitment to move toward "State of good repair" to extent they have funds. More deficits are anticipated in future years, and 2012's does not have room for another recession or other contingencies, and they still would like to "equalize" the zones. The exec. dir. blamed the previous administration for the necessary size of the increases.

SOUL (Linda Thisted and Rev. Booker) gave a strong case for the negative impact and discrimination of rate hikes (countered by that city sales taxes go to CTA rather than Metra). Mike Payne spoke for need to move ahead to Gray Line solutions rather than backwards- use the $51m whole lakefront planning money by Sen. Durbin well. Gary Ossewaarde for HPKCC recited progress in recent years on stations etc. and Gold Line planning. Major fare increases could instead kill the service, and what is planned is still too much (like a robber compromising by taking half your money)-- look at alternatives.

At a town hall meeting Oct. 19, Rep. Currie and Sen. Raoul, who had vigorously fought for equitability and reduction in the fare hikes, gave no indication they will ask for further reduction.

At the November 3 hearing, large numbers of groups opposed the revised fare hike. (one-way still goes up 15.7on average across zones. 10-rid goes up average 30% and monthly 29.4). Richard Gill of South East Chicago Commission said increases are high, but at least less than had been proposed. No further changes were made before Nov. 11 approval. Fares take effect in February.

System wide fares. Single, then 10-ride, then monthly. A is within same zone, then count to the zone you go to- A to C is 2 zones; except for break for A-B and more for Zone M generally go up .50 per added zone on one-way, gradually increasing in amount for 10-ride which is a gradual percentage decrease per zone from current from 34.8% to 21.2%, and $14.25 pr zone for monthly which is a gradually decreasing percentage increase from current) 2nd number is percentage increase.

Zone A-$2.75 (22.2% incr. $24.75 (35.2), $78.25 (34.8)

B- $3.00 (20.0), $27.00 (35), $85.50 (34.8) (most commonly bought by Hyde Parkers to downtown on Metra Electric So. Chicago)

C- $4.25 (21.4), $38.25 (34.2), $121.000 (33.8)

D- $4.75 (28.8), $42.75 (32.4, $135.25 (30.6) and s forth

H- $675 (12.5, $60.75 (26.4) $192.25 (26)

K- $825 (10), $74.25 (23.9), $235 (23.5)

M (is no L)-$9.25 (8.8), $83.25 (21.6, $263.50 (21.2)


More news and pages on Metra topics:

Metra trip planner: find My Metra: ticket by internet, fare calculator, interactive maps, station-to station, service updates
RTA trip planner:
Starting Sept 9 '09, you can buy Metra tickets on line with credit cards.

Metra Board meets 2nd or 3rd Fridays 9 am at 547 W. Jackson, 15th floor.
September 15 there will be a presentation on the Gray Line.

Link to emergency and diversion-from-route information at the website. Coming early next year sign up for CTA email alert. Learn about emergency evacuation procedures at,, www.pacebus/com.

Metra was enabled to order new cars with Stimulus money. At least some of the cars will be built in the Chicago area.

Quiet cars (in terms of phone users et al) are gradually coming to Metra lines.


Cuts, fare hikes proposed for early 2012 according to CBS report (cuts as well as elimination of the weekend pass were dropped)

Fare increases could run anywhere from 8 to 21 percent, depending where the agency attempts to peg fuel prices, which it grossly underestimated this year at $2.35 a gallon.

He [Hardwidge] said it appears that the majority of riders, who use Metra to get to and from work primarily, are far more willing to accept fare increases than service cuts.

Senior Capital Planning Director Lynnette Ciavarella said, with the exception of Boston, which last increased its fares in 2007, Metra is well below the industry average for fare increases since 2004.

Hardwidge recommended an initial phase of service cuts that target 31 trains, effectively removing one crew from each Metra line except the Heritage Corridor.

In addition, special trains serving White Sox and Bears games would be eliminated, as well as several weekend express trains added to Metra schedules in 2008 and 2009.

“By taking those trains out of the system you can do some adjustments in your schedule,” said Metra CEO Alex Clifford. “You can impact as few (riders) as possible. You will still impact a lot of customers. But the customers could then be absorbed into existing trains.”

Cut service more deeply, Clifford said, and the cuts cost more than they save. Such options included completely eliminating midday service or weekend service, or all off-peak service on the Electric District Blue Island and South Chicago branches.

Do nothing, and he said Metra faces a deficit of at least $80 million next year and $100 million in 2013 — and that assumes that the state pays what it owes in sales taxes and subsidies, something the state has been incapable of doing in recent months.

Despite that, and the fact that the RTA has exhausted its short-term borrowing authority trying to plug the gap in payments, Clifford said Friday he still believes Metra can make it to the end of the year without fare increases or service cuts.

Staff will refine the numbers over the next two months, setting the stage for a Metra board vote on the budget in October

These trains would be cut

Train 1274, departing Aurora at 4:08 p.m.
Train 1273, departing Chicago at 5:36 p.m.
Train 1298, departing Aurora at 10:20 p.m.
Train 1299, departing Chicago at 11:40 p.m.

Metra Electric
Train 758, departing Harvey at 7:47 a.m.
Train 604, departing Kensington at 7:31 a.m.
Train 503, departing Chicago at 4:54 p.m.
Train 739, departing Chicago at 5:40 p.m.
North Central Service
Train 106, Departing Antioch at 6:44 a.m.
Train 111, departing Chicago at 4:58 p.m.

Milwaukee District North Line Train
2122, departing Fox Lake at 7:16 a.m.
Train 2137, departing Chicago at 5:15 p.m.
Train 2152, departing Fox Lake at 6:20 p.m.
Train 2151, departing Chicago at 7:35 p.m.

Milwaukee District West Line
Train 2212, departing Big Timber at 6:54 a.m.
Train 2235, departing Chicago at 5:05 p.m.

Rock Island District
Train 402, departing Joliet at 5:29 a.m.
Train 602, departing Joliet at 6:05 a.m.
Train 302, departing Joliet at 8:10 .m.
Train 303, departing Chicago at 5:30 p.m.
Lengthening midday headways to 90 minutes
SouthWest Service

Train 804, departing Orland Park at 5:49 a.m.
Train 831, departing Chicago at 6:15 p.m.

Union Pacific North Line
Train 358, departing Waukegan at 7:10 p.m.
Train 369, departing Chicago at 11:35 p.m.

Union Pacific Northwest Line
Train 645, departing Chicago at 5:23 p.m.
Train 660, departing Crystal Lake at 8 p.m.
Train 665, departing Chicago 11:30 p.m.

Union Pacific West Line
Train 12, departing Geneva at 5:22 a.m.
Train 17, departing Chicago at 6:57 a.m.
Train 28, departing Elmhurst at 7:32 a.m.
Train 25, departing Chicago at 8:40 a.m.

South Lakefront Corridor Transit Study (Gold Line being one consideration). April 13 2011 there was an input opportunity and presentation at IIT 4:30 and 6:30- Almost all conceivable concerns were being taken into consideration or were raised. Input is still being taken and will proceed to recommendations by the end of the year-- probably quick fixes and a set of recommendations with costs. Comment at Brenda McGruder at CDOT, 312 744-6139.
Here is the link to the post meeting city report

Call 312 542-8381.

By the numbers: Monthly pass for Zone B (us, Metra Electric. So Chicago) goes from $63.45 to $105.75- that's $42.30 or 67%
vs. Zone D North Shore suburbs - monthly pass goes from $102.60 to $134.00, which is $31.40 or (rel.) only 31% WHY?
Single ride goes from $2.20 to $3.75 or $4 (hard to tell) from Zone B to downtown Zone A, also c. 2/3 increase.

HPKCC report by Gary Ossewaarde

Hyde Park Herald report April 20, 2011. South Side transit fixes examined. By Sam Cholke

The public transit agencies want to solve the transportation problems in neighborhoods between 22nd Street and 95th Street east of the Dan Ryan expressway, but first they're tying to figure out how residents ride teh buses, el and trains and what solutions people would use.

The Chicago departments of Transportation and Housing and Economic Development have hired five consulting firms to compile studies from Metra, the Chicago Transit Authority an other agencies to get a holistic view of the Southeast Side. The first results were presented April 13 a the Illinois Institute of Technology and showed that, though transit options largely serve the area well, it is not clustered around people or jobs.

In the 12 neighborhoods being studied, most people live in South Shore -- one in five Southeast Side residents -- and more than half of the jobs are in Hyde Park, with a significantly smaller job hub in Douglas [IIT].

Many residents still have to travel out of the area for work and because fewer households own a car than the city average, more trips are by public transit, usually a bus downtown. The No. 6 Jackson Park Express bus, with 11,200 riders yearly, serves nearly as many passengers as the Green Line. The Jeffery.. Express [#14] from South Shore serves more than both. For these riders, the system works relatively well -- there are a lot of good options to get downtown. But as the Illinois Medical District and Midway Airport continue to hire from the area, the local transit options continue to be bad at connecting to the Southwest and West Sides.

The transit system was found to be worst on South Cottage Grove Avenue between 35th Street and Garfield Boulevard, especially at Pershing Road, a commercial strip where officials have aggressively pursued developing retail. [The study also cited congestion on Cottage at 58th St.] To shop, most residents don't use the public transit system, unless an errand requires going downtown, the study found.

During the open call for solutions, the audience repeatedly suggested the Gold Line project, an idea for Metra's South Chicago Electric Line first broached by Michael Payne in the 1990s. "It would be functionally the same as an el line. The only difference would be riding one of the new high-liner cars with a Metra decal on the side." Payne said, standing before the audience of about 100. Payne's idea for a CTA fare system and 10-minute wait times for the line gained attention during the run-up to Chicago's Olympic bid and continues to be advocated by many in the area. "It could probably take 20 minutes off my commute time," said Lamar Scruggs, who lives in Hyde Park and commutes downtown to DePaul University for school. After the meeting, representatives from transit agencies said that even if the current study recommends the Gold Line, each agency would need to do its own lengthy study of the project, and there are more immediate concerns.

To keep the current transit options running in the area running without any expansion, CTA will need $1.3 billion over the next 10 years. Metra will need $1.8 billion to keep the two southern branches of he Electric District running for the next 10 years. "I would like to see the study concentrate on what can be done without focusing on physical facilities, things like policies," suggested Richard Gill, a member of the South East Chicago Commission. The transit agencies are quietly hoping for the same thing as Gill. Agency reps said they were hoping the study would suggest smaller solutions they could implement immediately, like improving the underutilized bus lines connecting Hyde Park and the el lines in Washington Park. ...



The latest revival of the Gray Line Lite concept (and the alt. Gold Line) was advanced at first in Olympics context, by the 5th Ward Olympics Task Force and by a wider Southsiders Organizing for Unity and Liberation (SOUL), becoming part of a newly launched umbrella Communities for Equitable Olympics. The plan includes 10 minute service, Visit Chamber, HPKCC sign on. Kudos to James Withrow and Linda Thisted. (Description of similar concepts started by Mike Payne are in our Gray Line1 page.)
Withrow: it is extremely important to growing world interest and visits, doing business with the South Side... that the Lakefront and its venues be seen to be on the CTA (El) Grid and accessible thereon.
A $300,000 for feasibility study was appropriated and Danny Davis put the proposal on the "eligible projects" list, and RTA/Moving Beyond Congestion 2040 has approve initial feasibility study--still, there is resistance to doing any more than signal and track work should the Olympics be approved (expected to double daily ridership).

South Lakefront Corridor Transportation Study held the first of several opportunities for public input and information April 13 2011. See our report in pdf. Their site Email, Brenda McGruder, CDOT, 30 N. LaSalle St., Ste. 500, Chicago, IL 60602, 773 312-744-6139, fax 312-742-2422. Information in a March 30 Red Eye-

City of Chicago

South Lakefront Corridor Transit Study: This project will study a range of transit service options in the South Lakefront Corridor, an area that extends from the Stevenson Expressway on the north to 95th Street on the south and from the Dan Ryan Expressway and Cottage Grove on the west to Lake Michigan on the east. The City will undertake this work as a first step in identifying alternatives that would improve public transportation services for better access to jobs and other activities, and would lead to enhanced economic vitality and quality of life for the communities served. The overall goal of the study is to recommend one or two candidate projects with the high net benefits for a more rigorous evaluation that would take place within the federal New Starts process.

November 17, 2008: More information concerning the Gold Line transit proposal, (Metra So Chic. Electr. upgrade-CTA lease-el-like frequency-univ. card- added Bronzeville station) including an explanation of the name change, can be found here:

Additionally, SOUL, with HPKCC and CECD reps, met with staff from the offices of Ald. Hairston (who hosted the meeting), Sen. Durbin, Rep. Jackson, Majority Leader Currie, state Senator Raoul, Ald. Preckwinkle and the Chicago Dep't of Transportation. Like most of our meetings with politicians on this effort, this meeting was very positive and we got commitments to go forward from all involved. Holdup now is Metra. Scroll down for more incl. Weekly News article. While the proposal is not in the Olympic benefit resolution, the state is being asked to fund a feasibility study. Rep. Davis proposed $900 million for feasibility study-- whether it's in the reported?

HPKCC Transit Task Force Chair writes: Here's an article about what's come to be known as the Gold Line Proposal:

There's also a Facebook group for the Gold Line here:

The Gold Line idea has taken off with local aldermen and state legislators signing on, as well as organizations such as HPKCC and Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce, UC officers- The latest revival of the concept "Gray Line Lite," to be renamed) is in Olympics context, by the 5th Ward Olympics Task Force and by a wider Southsiders Organizing for Unity and Liberation, becoming part of a newly launched Coalition for Equitable Olympics. Visit SOUL, HPKCC, HP Chamber of Commerce and other groups have signed up. Officials near the Metra including Ald. Hairston and Preckwinkle, Rep. Currie, Sen. Raoul, UC, CMAP have shown enthusiasm or signed up and helped. At a meeting with Doug Arnot and others of Chicago 2016, strong support and sense of consistency with Olympic goals were expressed. It can't go into the bid book because it's not funded, but after the bid is awarded, planning could go forward, including gaining federal funds for the purchase of cars and other upgrades and the agency arrangements and card interchange needed. The regional planning agency CMAP has been very supportive, considering this as bringing much more ridership at lower cost ($160 m) than other expansion plans. The plan includes 10 minute service, fare transfer convertibility, track and signal upgrade, new cars, and a new station between 47th and 27th.

Continue discussion re older "SECRET" version.

The Regional Transportation Agency (RTA) is seeking local partners including organizations to engage in assessing and planning for transit that is more efficient and gets people out of their cars. Community workshops are a part of the mix. Moving Beyond Congestion. Maybe a chance to look again at Metra Electric?

Metra has contributed a substantial amount to the upgrades of the viaducts. Read about the project, phase I currently under way. But one wonders about upkeep with the two derailments due to track shifting at 71st Exchange in early October 2007.

Information on stations

Hyde Park and Kenwood currently have four stations, three upgraded- 47th, 51st-53rd, 55th-56th-57th, and 59th. Warning- you are charged $2 extra if you didn't buy a ticket before boarding. All stations have machines (55th's is up on the platform) and 51st and 57th have booth ticket-sellers during rush hours at least, and elevators.

The University and Hospitals shuttle stops have moved also. The #170 was adjusted to serve both stops long ago. Metra says it has now completed renovation of all 8 South Chicago Branch stations. More are needed at 59th and south and at 39th.

Off-peak Metra (mainline zoned and Blue Island) Metra, as well as NICTD South Shore trains, stop in Hyde Park at 57th Street including for inter train transfer, although some rush hour through trains continue to stop at 59th. Evening combined trains stop at all stations with transfer to waiting South Chicago branch trains at at either 57th or 63rd. The way to be sure your train (except evening starting at 8:20 pm) stops in any given station in Kenwood, Hyde Park, Woodlawn or South Shore and beyond is to take a South Chicago train, but some stops are flag--you must notify the conductor if on the train, if catching- be visible.

New policy on bikes on train. Riders can bring bikes on trains that depart between 9:30 and 3 pm or after 7 pm weekdays, in addition to weekend policies. Top

Breaking news: IT'S 'NO DOOMSDAY' FOR CTA/RTA/Metra AND SENIORS WILL RIDE FOR FREE AS SOON AS aPRIL AS THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY PASSES THE GOV. -AMMENDED TRANSIT FUNDING BILL ON JANUARY 17.The law includes 530 million in property and sales tax increases. Details of the law's provisions on oversight and fiscal accountability were unavailable. There will nonetheless be a 10% Metra increase in February 2008. Transit home.

Gold Line Enhanced Metra service with CTA fare linkup ("SECRET")


The latest revival of the concept "Gray Line Lite," to be renamed) is in Olympics context, by the 5th Ward Olympics Task Force and by a wider Southsiders Organizing for Unity and Liberation, becoming part of a newly launched Coalition for Equitable Olympics. (1st meeting Aug. 14, ) Visit SOUL, HPKCC, HP Chamber of Commerce and other groups have signed up. Officials near the Metra including Ald. Hairston and Preckwinkle, Rep. Currie, Sen. Raoul, UC officials, CMAP have shown enthusiasm or signed up and helped. At a meeting with Doug Arnot and others of Chicago 2016, strong support and sense of consistency with Olympic goals were expressed. It can't go into the bid book because it's not funded, but after the bid is awarded, planning could go forward, including gaining federal funds for the purchase of cars and other upgrades and the agency arrangements and card interchange needed.

Alderman Preckwinkle also wants to build trolleys (or even light rail), mainly east -west from the north part of the 4th ward to meet Green and Red Line.

Chicago Weekly News talks about the Gold Line, in an article on the next South Side CTA growth- including Orange Line extension, South Loop Green Line station, and Red Line extension. November 20, 2008. By Sam Feldman.

The proposed sites for the major Olympic venues in 2016 stretch along the lakefront, from Soldier Fiedl and the Olympic Village south to Jackson Park. Unfortunately, none of these spots are particularly accessible by CTA trains. Hyde Park resident James Withrow has a solution: the Gold Line. Withrow's proposal would take the South Chicago Branch of the Metra Electric line, which runs from Millennium Station downtown past the waterfront venues to 93rd Street, and turn it into a line of the CTA. In practice this would mean running trains every ten minutes and providing integrated fares, so you could transfer to or from other CTA buses and trains for only twenty-five cents. Withrow hopes the trains would be branded as CTA and appear on CTA maps, but Metra would continue to operate them through an agreement with the CTA. "It's just important for people looking at Hyde Park to realize that operationally they'll be on the El grid," he explains.

Although the name "Gold Line" is a nod to the Olympics, Withrow's idea was not originally built around the games. "I've been working on this for five or six years, or at least talking to people about it, promoting it as something we ought to do," he says. If Chicago beats out Madrid, Rio de Janeiro, and Tokyo, Withrow believes the Gold Line would be "vital" for transportation to run smoothly in 2016, but its utility will continue beyond then. "I think the best way to put it is that people see this as a good excuse to do the right thing," he says.

Recently Withrow's proposal has been adopted by Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation (SOUL) and Communities for an Equitable Olympics (CEO) and endorsed by Aldermen Toni Preckwinkle (4th) and Leslie Hairston (5th) [and Sandy Jackson (7th)], as well as Hyde Park's state senator and representatives [and Sen. Durbin's office]. A few weeks ago Withrow got a favorable response from Doug Arnot at Chicago 2016, and he has high hopes that the Gold Line could be up and running as soon as two years from now. The CTA, which has not been known historically to oppose Mayor Daley, should go along with the plan, although Withrow is little less optimistic about Metra. "You always hope that they will cooperate and actually want to help out, and I look forward to the first piece of evidence that that's happening," he says diplomatically.

Withrow has looked into the potential cost of the Gold Line, and it's not clear yet where the funding would come from. "I never for a minute thought they'd be cheap, but basically the price we were quoted were something like three and a half million dollars per [rail] car," he says. "I notice that when Governor Palin sold her jet, she only got 2.1 [million] for that, so we're talking about something that's more expensive than a jet." Still, he's optimistic that the federal government wil chip in half the cost. "This is definitely the most pro-public transportation administration we've ever had," he says. And given the clean electric technology and the lasting benefits, he hopes to get funding at the state level too. "This area, especially the area south of here, it was built for streetcar trolleys, it wasn't built to accommodate a lot of cars." he points out. "If you have a transit method that people enjoy using, I would certainly hope that both Hyde Park's retail district and the retail further south of here would be helped out quite a bit by this."


Herald, August 13 2008. By Sam Cholke

A forum will be held Aug. 4 to discuss improvements to the South Shore Metra line and other transportation options should Chicago win he bid for the 2016 Olympics. The meeting will be at 5:30 p.m. at Olivet Baptist Church, 3101 S. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.

The meeting will include discussions with Southsiders Organizing for Unity and Liberation (S.O.U.L.), a coalition of community organizers sponsored by Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th) and the Coalition for an Equitable Olympics on their decision to promote the Gray Line Lite proposal.

The Gray Line Lite proposal would increase train frequency on the Metra south Shore line, which runs from the Loop to 91st Street along the lakefront, to 10-minute increments and allow for transfers to Chicago Transit Authority buses and trains It would in essence function as another "El" line, James Withrow, a member of S.O.U.L., told board members of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference (HP-KCC) at its aug. 7 board meeting. Withrow chairs the HP-KCC Transportation Committee.

Withrow and Linda Thisted, another member of S.O.U.L, presented the Gray Line Lite proposal at a July 24 Olympics meeting with Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th). The group showed support for the idea and the alderman thought it worth pursuing, but [they] refrained from officially signing on as supporters of the proposal. Hairston said at the July 24 community meeting that Chicago doesn't have the money to build something like a monorail down the lakefront to transport people to and from the Olympic events. Using the existing Metra tracks would not be expensive, she said. If Chicago wins its bid for the Olympics, the inevitable federal infrastructure money coming into the city could be used to mitigate most of the initial costs, Hairston said.

The Gray Line Lite proposal is taken heavily from Chatham resident Michael Payne's Gray Line proposal.

HPKCC, Chamber sign on to Gray [Gold] Line Letter. Hyde Park Herald, by Sam Cholke

The Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference (HP-K CC) voted Sept. 4 to join the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce in support of a plan to increase the frequency of South line Metra trains to 10-minute intervals and allow $0.25 transfers to CTA transit. The proposal, commonly referred to as the Gray Line, is the top priority of South Siders [Organizing for Unity and Liberation], a member organization of Coalition for an Equitable Olympics 2016, while attempting to negotiate a community benefits agreement with the city concerning Chicago's bid for the 2016 Olympics.

James Withrow, who brought the proposal before the conference, said no one has expressed opposition to supporting the Gray Line. "The Olympics are a great excuse to get people working together on this," Withrow said. The proposal has received initial support from Ald. Leslie Hairston's (5th) Olympic committee. Withrow said the University of Chicago and Howard Males, chair of the 53rd Street Tax Increment Finance (TIF) District advisory council, have also shown interest in the proposal.

"Other than tweaking bus lines, this seems like the most likely to succeed," said George Rumsey, president of the HP-k CC, before the conference voted to sign on to a letter of support with the Chamber. "I think it would be a major improvement."...
[Note: Withrow said the plan would involve acquiring about 24 new rail cars, a goodly expense.]

Please note that the HPKCC Transit Task Force still thinks that the Metra service we do have is generally outstanding and the stations (one with a cafe!) are a vast improvement. New cars are on the way--we hope, eventually and with bathrooms ), and that more infrastructure changes are funded. And it almost always comes reliably and on time! It could again become a leading and heavily used urban railroad (an overlooked and promising subset of transit service).

Metra found it necessary to raise fares 10 percent in February 2006. Ridership is reported sometimes as flat, other times as increasing. It is possible that the South Lakefront CTA route reconfiguration drew some patrons from Metra in the southeast part of the city.

State 5-year capital spending plan includes $18 b for transportation

It is unclear how much of the 5-year 31 billion state capital budget passed in July 2009 will go the CTA and the other agencies- much will go to start up high speed rail. $18 billion is for transportation, leveraging about $4 billion in federal funds and are partially covered by transportation user fees. The ratio for transit is improved to 1 in 4 dollars. The downside according to Metropolitan Planning Council, is that money allocated by the new capital plan is not coupled with spending reforms to evaluate the merits of projects against state goals. HB2359 - now HB4590 - outlines a process by which transportation projects should be selected and evaluated. The bill should have been passed in tandem with the Illinois Jobs Now program. Because it was never called for a House vote, lawmakers did not have the opportunity to approve these critical reforms that would change the way we spend limited capital dollars. Another question is how much is "shovel-ready."


Late in 2003, troubling suggestions came from Metra.
South and southwest suburban residents and legislators have complained about limited service and poor facilities compared to the north and west service areas and about "profiling"- double-checking of tickets. Metra responded by taking out the turn styles but also talked of closing little-used stations as a way of paying for improvements. They also suggested there are not complaints from the city's south side. Legislators and aldermen cried "foul" and "backward-looking response." See letter from State Senator Barack Obama.

In spring, 2004 Metra announced several enhancements to the trains and south suburban and Randolph Street Stations. Meanwhile, issues were complicated by
1) the Governor's proposal to combine the oversight and planning boards, and possibly service providers into one super agency under state bureaucratic control, since aborted, and
2) Delay and infighting in Congress over passage of a Transit Bill. (These are discussed in our (old) Regional and Beyond page.)
Metra found that between IllinoisFIRST and federal fund lapses it could not follow through for now with purchase of the new cars.

Metra is containing station upgrades-but not 59th, especially in South Shore, and embankment and viaduct upgrades in Hyde Park, but has not yet responded to requests for viaduct upgrades in Woodlawn. Metra has given a substantial sum for rebuilding the Lake Park embankments and viaducts, starting fall 2006.


About Secret

Goals of the plans are to use the underutilized Metra Electric South Chicago branch to reconnect riders, especially in South Chicago, Cheltenham, and east Woodlawn, among the most hurt by transit cutbacks and teardowns over the past decade through at least:

  • A goal of 10 minute headway rush and midday, or enough so people wouldn't have to consult a schedule
  • 30 cent transfers to CTA or a Universal Fare Card
  • Upgrade to all Metra stations not recently repaired

Envisioned in conjunction would be a major re-aquaintance and ridership-building campaign and provision of up to date, compliant, safe stations. Both require market and rider interest surveys. Nearly 400 surveys returned so far already show over 80 percent saying they would use Metra South Chicago more if there were the fare coordination and the increased midday service.

Gray Line and SECRET both received a big boost from the 2030 CATS Regional Transportation Plan. Visit Regional and Beyond, Regional Transportation Plan. The Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference has a copy of the summary plan, including on CD-ROM in our office. 773 288-3843.

South East Chicago Rail Enhancement Team. This is a joint project of the HPKCC Transit Task Force, Campaign for Better Transit and other southeast side community organizations (see list below). Contact: James Withrow, of HPKCC Transit Task Force or Campaign for Better Transit. The Conference Board has endorsed the project and members of the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce is participating. South East Chicago Commission, Rep. Currie, State Sen. Raoul, and US Senator Obama have been consulted.

The Task Force and SECRET team wants, at the least, Metra-CTA fare coordination and we especially seek Metra Electric non-rush hour service frequent enough to spark a big increase in ridership. (See Hyde Park Herald letter, HPKCC Transit Task Force October and August Quarterly Meeting with CTA reports and Judy Chernick's memo on a possible "No. #6 X", in CTA/HPKCC Task Force meetings reports. ) The Transit Task Force worked with Campaign for Better Transit, WECAN and a coalition of organizations south along the entire South Chicago Branch to create political will for a "Gray Line Lite" (SECRET), to include South Chicago Branch 10 minute headways between 7 am and 10:20 pm and a 30-cent transfer linkup between Metra Electric (as a pilot) and CTA, as well as station improvements along the South Chicago Branch. A series of meetings of southeast side advocacy and business and social provider groups were held; those in Woodlawn, South Shore and South Chicago were very successful. We met with legislators having constituents living along the route. The legislators have been supportive and have facilitated private meetings but of course await completion of detailed surveys and demographic and cost studies. In August 2004 Rep. Constance Howard participated in a hearing on the matter at South Shore Cultural Center.

To become involved in this increasingly popular and possible idea, contact Jim Withrow. The only major user concern we have heard is possible traffic interference from frequent trains along 71st and possibly Exchange, which we intend to address. Metra, frankly, has said any such project is of low priority to them compared to other demands.

Do we have a problem in that Metra's money and a large part of its ridership are suburban? How could regional transit body organization and funding mechanism be adjusted to level any playing-field problems?

Report on the public meeting on SECRET of August 21, 2004, South Shore Cultural Center

WECAN director Arvis Averette led the meeting.

James Withrow of the HPKCC Transit Task Force stated the case for public transportation. Cited were property value increase near transit, including Fannie Mae's transit efficient mortgage rates, health and safety, walkability, and business growth. He explained how the proposed Metra enhancements fit this an in effect makes it our "L". (See more in "Public Transportation Saves Lives."

Michael Payne explained the Gray Line proposal and that it had a high eligibility and funding recommendation in the Regional Transportation Plan and the highest efficiency rating from the Air Quality Commission of Center for Neighborhood Technology. He explained various advances from revitalizing this underutilized resource. Payne's website is

Sheila Tugume of Campaign for Better Transit talked about universal fare cards and reported on a survey of South Chicago Branch riders, in which c. 82 percent they would ride Metra more often if there were a universal fare card or more service.

Representative Constance Howard and Annette Hurley, aide to Representative Currie expressed general support but said halls have to be filled and more done to convince legislators against powerful interests. They also encouraged speaking at the city budget hearing on th 26th.

The CTA service changes were presented. The importance of federal transit legislation was stressed. (See handout, in Regional and Beyond from left bar.)

Public Participation brought out many new facets.

All were encouraged to come to a follow up meeting September 4 6-7:30 at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, 3208 E. 91st (Rodriquez Room.)


Organizations that have participated in the SECRET process at that time

Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference (Board endorsement and Hyde Park Transit Task Force)
Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce
Woodlawn East Community and Neighbors
Woodlawn Preservation and Investment Corporation
University of Chicago Student Center
East Side Chamber of Commerce
Claretian Associates
South Chicago Consortium
Bush Homeowners Association
Healthy South Chicago Commission
South Shore Planning and Preservation Coalition
South Chicago Development Coalition
South Shore Chamber of Commerce
The Circle Group, Inc.
East Side United Methodist Church
Centro Communitario Juan Diego
Concerned Citizen's Coalition of Chicago
Woodlawn Development Associates
Villa Guadalupe Senior Services, Inc.
63rd Street WMCA

Handout on SECRET

SECRET (South East Chicago Rail Enhancement Team) is a grassroots coalition dedicated to improving public transportation in South and Southeast Chicago. Currently SECRET has begun a campaign focused on the following goals:

1) Increasing service on the South Chicago Branch of the Metra Electric. In the 1960's this train ran every10 minutes, day and night.
2) Working for a Universal Fare Card that would allow transit riders to transfer between Metra trains and CTA buses.

SECRET participants belong to every community located along this line. The first SECRET meeting was held in February 2003 at the offices of woodlawn East Community and Neighbors (WECAN). Representatives from a half dozen community groups were present when James Withrow, of the Hyde Park [HPKCC] Transit Task Force, suggested groups form under the acronym SECRET in order to work for more Metra service, transferability between Metra and CTA trains and buses, and, in general, to promote public transportation.

Meetings began to be held in the communities bordering the Metra Electric tracks. Planning and informational meetings were hosted by the South Shore Chamber of Commerce, Centro Communitario Juan Diego, the Healthy South Chicago Coalition, and villa Guadalupe in order to promote SECRET among local community based organizations. In June, participants felt the need to begin planning for a public meeting and to enlist the support of elected officials.

In July members of SECRET met separately with State Representative Constance A Howard (34th), Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie (25th), and State Senator Barack Obama to gain their support for SECRET's goals. Representative ...Currie agreed to convene a meeting of her colleagues to address the need for a universal fare card. The Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) is currently conducting a study on this issue and, in the past, Representative Julie Hamos (18th) of Hamos of Evanston has sponsored legislation toward this goal.

Tonight's meeting is the first step in improving mass transit in Chicago and Southeast Chicago. SECRET is open to everyone concerned about improving bus and rail service [there]. SECRET is an initiative of the Campaign for Better Transit which is dedicated to working on public transportation issues at the grassroots level.

Done next steps:

1) Representatives Howard and Currie request chairman Hamos to convene a meeting and a hearing on universal fare card.

2) Representative Howard facilitates a meeting with Metra. Metra holds already-demanded far south/suburban hearings in fall.

3) Howard and Hamos hold a public hearing (held January, 2004) on Southeast Corridor transit needs and complaints. (Emphasis was actually on terrible bus service in the 111th/Olive-Harvey College area.)
Report on the Hearing

4) A placeholder for Metra Electric upgrade and linkage further south is sought in the Regional Transportation Plan "SharedPath 2030" (done). (See * side comment below on CTA rail/bus "improvements" for the southeast corridor.)

5) Continued outreach efforts- (done for Gray Line, not SECRET)

6) Push to get commitment by Metra for at least some upgrades (pushed and achieved by State Senator Barack Obama)

7) Getting a "local ask" for Universal Fare Card (RTA Board unanimously endorsed in April 2004) and interagency engineering meetings on the same (meetings started and some coordination was done, but full conversion is blocked by an apparent cost of $60 million--or so the legislature was told.)

8) Pilot projects toward universal fare card (CTA card said to be ready, other implemented trials called timid)


Obama sets legislative sights on Metra neglect

Hyde Park Herald, November 5, 2003

Hyde Park residents using Metra's Electric Line have suffered for years with dilapidated stations, no bathrooms on the trains and turnstiles and gates that force you to have your ticket punched six times on a round-trip ride.

However, I am leading a group of South Side and South Suburban elected officials that are filing state legislation this week to require Metra to install bathrooms and eliminate payment gates on its South Suburban Electric Line by Jan. 1, 2005.

It is discrimination that the Electric Line--one of 11 Metra Lines and the only predominantly African American one--is apparently the only line without bathrooms on the trains and the only one with gates that require passengers to pay before getting on trains. At all other Metra stations, passengers do not need to pass through pay gates.

The South Suburban Electric Line is also apparently the only Metra line that won't accept tickets purchased at other District stations, forcing many riders to either wait for a ticket agent to unlock the turnstile or else jump it. The Electric Line is the only line with security cameras and too few and dilapidated benches.

The longest commute ride on the Electric Line is approximately one hour and seventeen minutes. The longest commute on the Southwest line--which has bathrooms---is approximately one hour and eight minutes. A Metra Web site press release stated that, "approximately 13,000 Metra passengers originate in Riverdale and communities south of it." These predominately African American riders and commuters have no bathroom service on their 45-minute plus trip.

When commuters complained about the STAR Line connecting a mostly affluent territory between O'Hare International Airport, the western suburbs and Joliet, Jeff Ladd, CEO of Metra, derisively said Metra was "not a social service welfare agency" concerned with unemployment issues and access to jobs.

My office and those of South Suburban legislators have been flooded with calls from upset commuters who had called Metra to complain about the service. One woman was told that the reason there are no bathrooms is because Metra bought the Electric Line from the Illinois Central and that the problem will be fixed eventually. The other person who complained received no call back.

Similar complaints were heard recently at a Metra town meeting in Homewood, where residents complained about years of Metra neglect. Metra riders will get one more chance to voice their concerns to Metra at a town meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 11 at 7:00 pm at the Village of Matteson's Village Board Room, 4900 Village Commons, Matteson. If you cannot attend that meeting, please call my office at 773-363-1996 about specific Metra concerns. For example, I know the renovation of the Hyde Park stations has been a mess with Metra years behind schedule. While Metra blames a bankrupt contractor, that is not a reasonable excuse for riders who must suffer through potentially dangerous stations.

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, transportation facilities of a public entity must be accessible and usable or it is considered legal discrimination. Not surprisingly, the Metra Electric Line is also the only line with gates that have to be entered before riding the train.

Metra is the direct service provider and is fully responsible for assuring satisfactory conditions for its customers. All New Jersey to New York commuter trains, for example, have bathrooms on them. Chicago commuter trains should be

held to similar standards.

Since the General Assembly has authority over parts of Metra's budget, we are going to hold their feet to the fire.


Letters on Metra possible fare hikes in early 2011.

Metra told Mr. Gill that the fare hike for Zone B on Metra Electric has been substantially reduced, but did not say by how much. More info at the Oct. 14 meeting.

CECD letter by Pat Wilcoxen to Hyde Park Herald, appearing September 26, 2011

Metra fare hikes bad for South Side riders
To the Editor:
I am writing on behalf of the Coalition for Equitable Community Development (CECD), a coalition of individuals and civic, religious and business organizations in the greater Hyde Park area who are concerned about affordability and diversity in our community. We wish to add our voice to those who have expressed concern about the proposed Metra fare increases. In particular, we are concerned that the proposed increases will unfairly burden the low- an moderate-income residents of our community who rely on Metra to commute to work.

While we appreciate Metra’s need for additional revenue, an analysis of the proposal shows that the Hyde Park commuter is shouldering a disproportionate share of the increase. The Hyde Park-Kenwood stations are I in Zone B for downtown commuters. Zone B is seeing the largest fare increase: namely, 66.7 percent, while the outer suburban area (Zone D) are receiving only a 30.6 percent increase. If you look at it from the point of view of cost per mile, a Hyde Park commuter using 56th Street station will be paying $15 per mile, while a commuter from Winnetka will be paying only $8 per mile.

We encourage the Hyde Park Herald to investigate this matter more fully. In particular, we would like to know why Metra, a predominantly suburban agency, has decided to increase city commuters’ fares at twice the rate of most suburban commuters. The Electric Line, in particular, primarily serves city commuters; therefore, the fare increase affects these users more than other suburban lines. So far, we have not heard a good answer.

Pat Wilcoxen, President, CED

Gary Ossewaarde letter to Herald of Sept. 26 2011.

Metra hikes as proposed would hurt neighborhoods, riders (Herald headline Write to politicians about Metra hikes.

Just as we see progress on South Side transit planning we are told in the media that Metra riders face extremely steep fare hikes early next year.

First, some good news. The South Lakefront Corridor Transit Study (as reported in the Herald Sept. 21) announced at its second public input open house five clusters of projects and changes to improve mobility within and to outside of the study area (approximately Stevenson to 95th and east of the Ryan) and promote neighborhood growth and jobs.

While priority goes to improvements with a relatively quick timeframe and cost, included was initial upgrading of the Metra South Chicago Electric District service, some stations, and integration with the mass transit grid—improvements together called the Gold Line. The latter has been promoted for several years by a large number of community and South Side organizations (examples: SOUL, Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference, Coalition for Equitable Community Development) and elected officials. Indeed, the push for the Gold Line was the impetus for the larger Lakefront Study.

Further progress on the Gold Line will require a presently-unfunded “capacity and feasibility study”- so get out your contacts for our local, state and federal representatives and officials if you want to see this and other improvements proceed. Note that there is a strong push in Congress to cut back on public transit support despite the strong case for the role of transit in the vitality and sustainability of cities, states, and countries.

Partly because of the fiscal problems and fights over priorities for state and federal funding, as well as steady erosion of the service providers’ revenues (taxes and farebox recovery) and Illinois’s backlog in payments to the service providers, Metra projects a $62 million deficit in the coming year—and little relief is in sight. Naturally, Metra has to increase revenue and if possible cut more costs, and neither it nor its riders apparently want service cuts.

The fare increases, however are draconian—the headlined “average 28%” is tough enough, but increases for going between adjacent zones can be much greater—for Hyde Park (Zone B on the South Chicago), going to downtown (Zone A) would go up by TWO-THIRDS- 68% or nearly a dollar and a half for ONE ride if the numbers in the media are indeed brought to the Metra board in November. Zones farthest from the city on all the lines seem to be in line for much more modest fare increases depending on destination.

It is quite possible that such a sharp increase all at once (and perhaps more to come) will cause such a loss in ridership that Metra will be coming to regulators down the road and asking to abandon the service, with great disadvantage to commuters, University of Chicago students, faculty and staff, and businesses, deterrent to transit-oriented development throughout the South Side, and lead to an increase in traffic congestion, not to mention that some might have to drop out of the job market or have inconvenience getting to the doctor. The impact would seem to be disproportionate on the South Side (the part of the city with the most city Metra stations) and its heavily minority populations.

What makes the increase even more outrageous is the reports in the media that Metra has been grossly lax in collection of fares on its trains.
I agree with the Tribune that increases should at least be put on hold until Metra can prove it is effectively collecting fares, and addressing its problems with dysfunctional and corrupt management. Also that it is addressing a disinclination to serve city riders, that it is exploring every way to raise funds for its capital needs, and that it can come up with equitable solutions to its shortfall. In addition, Illinois, it’s your turn to pay your bills and fix the law that seems to allow firms to set up phony “outlets” outside the region and thus evade the taxes upon which our transit service providers (and other government bodies) depend.

Let’s get going with our pens, email lists, smart phones, and telephones, starting with Metra:
Next board meeting-check in their website for date-time-conditions (likely November 21) of the next meeting, at 547 W. Jackson Blvd., 60661

The website has a comment submittal form in “contact,” look also in “about.”
Vice Chairman is Larry A. Huggins (cc. Exec. Dir. Alexander D. Clifford). General phone is 312 322-6900; Office of the Board is at 312 542-8382.
Gary M. Ossewaarde

South East Chicago Commission (Richard R. Gill, Transportation Chair, Wendy Walker Williams, Executive Director

As in Hyde Park Herald October 5, 2011. Sent to Metra Exec. Dir. Alexander D. Clifford and Board vice President Larry A. Huggins.


If Metra is looking to destroy its ridership within the city of Chicago, the Zone B fares proposed at Metra's September board meeting will accomplish that. The fare increases for Zone B would be 60 percent or more.

The fare increase will raise the overall transit operating cost in the region because CTA's costs wil increase. AS just one example, Metra's South Chicago Branch, already underutilized, will virtually dry up. South Side Metra Electric riders will abandon Metra and switch to close-b y CTA express bus routes. The CTA won't be able to handle the loads; they'll have to run up their costs by adding bus drivers. They will also need more buses. Where will the buses come from? More than likely, they will have to be drawn from the unreliable fleet that CTA mothballed a few year ago. That is, of course, if the vehicles are even available anymore.

This is not speculation. It already happened in 1981. RTA raised commuter fares by huge percentages. CTA bus routes were swamped and the agency had to enlarge its bus operation to handle the crowds. Metra Electric ridership in the city fell apart overnight. Public outcry force teh RTA to partially roll back the general fare increase, and in-city fares were further adjusted to a level competitive with the CTA. Metra ridership partially bounced back, but has never really recovered.

The 1981 experience was a disaster for all: Metra's currently proposed increase means that nothing has been learned. It also means that it is counterproductive having separate serice boards that solely focus inward.

The proposed fare increase forces the pricing scale into a rigid one-size-fits-all straightjacket without regard for the overall situation. Even if Metra operated without an environment that includes buses and rapid transit, a Zone B one-way fare to downtown of $3.75 or $4, along with a monthly fare of more than $100 (according to the chart in the September presentation) would be unthinkable. It is bad policy, ignores the real world and disregards lessons from the past.

Stare reps and senators weighed in

In response to Metra's recent proposal to increase fares for Metra Electric Zone A and B riders, Aldermen Will Burns and Leslie Hairston, State Senator Kwame Raoul, State Representative Kim du Buclet, and I sent the following letter to the executive director of Metra

Dear Mr. Clifford:

We write to express our very grave concerns over the structure of Metra's proposed fare increases. Metra Electric Zone A and B riders are being asked to pay double the percentage increase that Metra is asking of riders from more distant zones. Furthermore, since $26M of Metra's projected $65M shortfall for 2012 is due to diesel fuel increases, it hardly seems fair that Metra Electric riders should shoulder a disproportionate share of the cost. The monthly pass increase from each Electric zone B (5-10 miles from downtown) rider will be $42.30, while zone D riders (15-20 miles from downtown) are only being asked to pay an additional $31.20.

Because Metra Electric riders in Hyde Park, South Shore, and South Chicago can opt to use the CTA, the large increase in Metra monthly passes for zone A and B riders on the Electric line (from $63.45 to $105.77) will cause many riders to switch to the CTA, with its $86 monthly pass. I'm not sure the CTA will be able to handle a significant ridership increase along the lake front corridor. Metra, CTA, and RTA must jointly address these issues in order to avoid compromising service.

We encourage you to revisit your proposed fare increases, and look forward to your prompt response.


A service of Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference Transit Task Force/ Transportation and Parking Committee and the HPKCC website, (email) Help support our work: Join the Conference! Join and work with the Task Force- contact chairman James Withrow.