Today’s Headlines for Thursday, February 21

  • Tribune: Metra Ridership Fell 9% Between 2014 and 2018, While Fares Rose 4 Times
  • Most Mayoral Candidates Support a Dedicated Bike Walk Fund (Active Trans)
  • No Charges for Driver Who Critically Injured Girl Near Downer’s Grove School (Sun-Times)
  • Motorist Charged With DUI for Crash That Injured State Trooper on I-94 (ABC)
  • Driver, 87, Plows Into Mexican Restaurant in Batavia (Sun-Times)
  • Man Who Allegedly Stabbed Passenger on CTA Bus Charged (Block Club)
  • Chicagoans of Various Incomes Discuss They Make Ends Meet, Including Transit (Vice)
  • Chuy Garcia: City Funds Used for ‘L’ Noise Abatement Wall Behind Burke’s House (Sun-Times)
  • Fire at Metal-Plating Plant in Fulton Market Disrupts Green, Pink Line Trains (CBS)
  • 2 TODs Heading to Western Avenue Near the Bloomingdale Trail (Curbed)
  • Arcadis and Jacobs Chosen to Help Lead the CTA’s Red and Purple Modernization Project

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  • Kevin M

    Re: drop in Metra ridership

    1) Does anyone else think that tele-commuting is also cutting in to Metra ridership? Someone I know, who rides Metra about every weekday, tells me that he sees a drop in passenger through the week, with Fridays always having far fewer riders. If this is true, I would imagine this effect disproportionally effects Metra because a) its commuter base is further from downtown and therefore those folks have more incentive to tele-commute and b) Metra has always leveraged its business model on serving commuters, while the CTA’s business model serves a more diverse type of ridership

    2) While ridership drops are not good news, I find it rarely gets reported when roads and highways lose auto-ridership and becoming more difficult to justify expensive maintenance and repairs. Our car-culture nickel-and-dimes transit to death while blindly and silently burning cash on less cost-efficient, lower-capacity, less-sustainable roads and highways.

    I pray the Springfield will use this ridership data as a signal to significantly re-think and re-invest in Metra rather than aid in its spiraling demise by reducing funding and service-levels.

  • Anne A

    From people I know and observations on the train, I’d say that tele-commuting is putting a dent in Metra ridership. Also, steep fare increases over the last several years coinciding with a significant decline in reliability has alienated many.

  • planetshwoop

    I thought these were super interesting questions so I looked at the Metra usage data.

    Re: #1 — I couldn’t tell if some days have gone down vs others bc Metra doesn’t break out data by day of the week (that I could tell). It seems that Monthly and 10-ride ticket sales have gone down year over year, which would be a good indication that more people are home a few days a week and buying single rides. But who knows? Maybe it’s also just because they drive a few days instead? Hard to say.

    Metra includes average gas prices in its summary. Basically gas prices were really high through most of 2014 and collapsed in Sept. Metra raised fares, and the price of gas has not gone back up. So it was killer.

    It looked like most of the declines were zones D or E. (I didn’t look that carefully.) That would be an easy spot to switch to driving when gas is cheap.

    Re: #2 — IDOT doesn’t make it easy to figure out tollway ridership. (I couldn’t find it.) I looked at the annual report they offer to the bond holders and from 2015 to 2018 estimated, revenue went up 17%. The rates on commercial trucks were jacked up substantially but I doubt that’s all of the extra money; driving is probably up.

    (For a good time, read a review of the Inspector General Reports from IDOT. Holy moly!)