Skip to Content
Streetsblog Chicago home
Log In
Chicago Policy

New Metra CEO Drives to Work Because the Train’s Too Infrequent

1:05 PM CST on February 10, 2014

Don Orseno
New Metra CEO Don Orseno

The Metra board recently confirmed Don Orseno as the permanent executive director following his stint as interim chief after Alex Clifford resigned last year. After the confirmation, the Tribune reported that Orseno, a decades-long railroad and Metra employee who lives in Manhattan, a far southwest suburb, said that he has to drive to work because the "SouthWest Service Line schedule doesn't get him to the office early enough, or home late enough."

He's right: Each weekday, three trains depart Manhattan for Chicago Union Station, arriving at 7:25 a.m., 8:17 a.m. and 3:48 p.m. The last train bound for Manhattan leaves Union Station at 5:40 p.m. The line doesn't run at all on Sundays and six holidays.

Ridership figures for SouthWest Service aren't known since Metra rarely conducts station-level boarding surveys and the only one for the Manhattan station was conducted in 2006 (the same year SouthWest Service was extended to Manhattan and Will County). A 2013 survey did show only seven percent of the 250 car parking spaces at the station in use. Numerous residents -- but apparently not Orseno -- drive to 179th Street station in Orland Park which has better, more typical service.

The low frequency on the line isn't simply Metra catering to demand. Ridership itself is restrained by the lack of frequency.

Orseno's speech at the board meeting focused on improving communication quality to passengers, which was abysmal during the Chiberia service disruptions. Soon, though, we need to hear from Orseno and other transit leaders and state legislators about how they plan to add service, given that the infrequency of transit is a drag on the regional economy.

Orseno's comments come at a very interesting time. Tonight, state representatives Ron Sandack and Darlene Senger host a public hearing to discuss Metra's extremely long delays, leaving passengers on cold platforms with nary a communiqué. Orseno will attend and Metra staff will make a presentation before a public Q&A.

It won't be surprising if the meeting, to be held at Naperville City Hall, is canceled because of today's inclement weather, but one Twitter user has this question queued up for Orseno already:

@OnTheMetra they are holding a meeting about the issue with Metra tonight in Naperville. My one question to them will be did u take Metra.

— JT THAT DUDE (@jtotc) February 10, 2014

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog Chicago

Bicycle-friendly politicians showed up in force for Bike Lane Uprising’s packed 6th anniversary fundraiser

Lawmakers Kelly Cassidy, Andre Vasquez, and Kam Buckner, plus BLU founder Christina Whitehouse, thanked the advocates present for their efforts to make cycling safer.

September 29, 2023

CTA blues: Musician and ex-bus driver Toronzo Cannon, shares his views on the agency’s labor challenges

Like many CTA workers, difficulties in the early days of COVID influenced Cannon's decision to retire. He says the transit unions need to do more to support their members.

September 28, 2023

Earth Rider Cycling closing in October after five years on Milwaukee Avenue

The closure of yet another local Chicago bike shop reflects a shifting and challenging market for small business owners.

September 28, 2023
See all posts