Eyes on the Street: Metra Renovates 18th Street Electric Station

18th Street Metra Electric station renovations
A Metra Electric train passes the renovated 18th Street station on Sunday.

The South Loop-focused blog Sloopin reported last month that more residents in the Prairie District are using the Metra Electric service’s 18th Street station to catch a fast, on-time ride into the East Loop. A trip from 18th Street to Van Buren or Millennium Stations costs $2.75 and takes 10-15 minutes. A similar ride on the Chicago Transit Authority’s 3-King Drive bus would take over 20 minutes and cost $2.00, and no CTA rail stations are currently within walking distance.

The growing crowd using the previously rickety station will undoubtedly appreciate its recent facelift. Metra spokesperson Michael Gillis said they’re replacing the station’s wooden platform, shelters, and stairs. “We expect to be done,” he said, “by the next home game for the Bears on November 16.” The work appeared to be complete as of yesterday.

Chicago Bears football fans use the 18th Street station to walk to Soldier Field. Trains from 18th Street continue through the South Side and south suburbs, through Hyde Park, Pullman, University Park, Riverdale, and Blue Island.

During rush hour, the Metra Electric’s “main line” between downtown and Hyde Park – before the line splits into separate branches – runs with rapid transit-like frequency, with trains arriving downtown every 2 to 8 minutes. Few of these trains, though, stop at 18th Street. On weekday mornings, only four inbound trains will pick up passengers at 18th, but 30 trains always bypass the station. Sloopin’ is asking its readers to email Metra and request to have more trains stop at 18th, even if only as a “flag stop.” (Trains will only stop at flag stops if a passenger, either on board the train or on the platform, requests so.)

18th Street Metra Electric station renovations
Renovation work included a brand-new platform and staircase.

The station’s position at the southwest edge of Museum Campus, just west of the proposed Lucas Museum, means it could play a role in the ongoing Museum Campus Framework Plan and transportation study. The first report from that study is due on Thanksgiving week.

  • Disappointing that Metra cheaped out and just rebuilt it as a wooden platform rather than a proper upgrade like Museum Campus/11th St.

    Do we have any data on when it was last refreshed? I’m curious on the longevity of the wood with all the sports fans that use the station along with the growing number of commuters.

  • Eric Allix Rogers

    Now they just need to do something about 27th Street, which is quite literally unreachable. The streets leading to it are barricaded off.

  • david vartanoff

    Time to make the station ADA compliant and increase service. There is clearly room for an elevator next to the stairs.

  • I wonder if the pedestrian bridge ramps are ADA compliant. The ramp slope seems pretty steep, although it does have flat spots and landings every so often.

  • Interesting…the station is still on the schedule.

  • And people still get on and off there. I wonder how?

  • The old Roosevelt Road station was so old it was historic, so I’m guessing quite a while. May not look the best for very long, though.

  • Eric Allix Rogers

    You can get on and off, and access the station on foot only. But you can’t drive to within a couple of blocks of it, nor can you bike without having to dismount and go up on the sidewalk around a barrier. But yes, it is still a regular stop.

  • As part of the Museum Campus Transportation Study, the CTA Gray Line Project would utilize upgraded in-city Metra Electric District lines as a new CTA “L” service (including the 18th St. Station, which as David said could easily be made ADA Compliant): http://www.civicartworks.com/projects/museum-campus-transportation-study/ideas/cta-gray-line-project

  • Jack

    yes, the pedestrian bridge is fully ADA compliant

  • I’m pretty sure it was installed with the Electrification in 1926, and I’d be willing to bet it hasn’t been touched in any major way since then.

    Remember, it’s inside the city, which historically Metra hasn’t cared about at all.

  • This would be amazing.

  • duppie

    Only in America does stapling down some 2*4s count as a facelift. It shows how low our standards and expectations have sunk.

  • duppie

    That Ventra argument does not require CTA to take over management of the Metra Electric District lines.

    All it requires is political will from CTA and Metra to integrate their fare systems.

  • But look how much our deserving Politicians get stuffed into their back pockets — we simply can’t deny them that can we?

  • Running the Metra Electric line as rapid transit would essentially involve deleting schedules and running on headways. That’s the main point of Mike’s Gray Line proposal.

    At this point, if you don’t have a schedule, like the rest of CTA’s trains, then you may as well repaint the trains to have CTA’s logo and then call it the “Gray Line”.

  • FG

    It’s been rebuilt numerous times over the years, most recently when the new pedestrian bridge was built. I think Streetsblog is overstating the numbers here – most riders board to go south or coming from the south, not to go to or from the loop.

  • FG

    His proposal is half-baked since it leaves out suburban commuters and has zero political support from the south side politicians that matter (I’ve spoken to them about it since I’m a constituent and he isn’t).