Skip to Content
Streetsblog Chicago home
Streetsblog Chicago home
Log In
Chicago Suburbs

Metra is slashing service on Heritage, SWS, and NCS lines

Metra Heritage Corridor Train crossing the South Fork of the Chicago River along the former Chicago and Alton Railroad Bridge. Photo: Jeff Zoline

Local transit agencies are facing brutal headwinds as they try to provide service to essential workers during COVID-19, at a time when most people who can do so are avoiding riding public transportation. A sign of the times was Metra's announcement yesterday that, as a result of dwindling ridership, it will be gutting service on the Heritage Corridor, SouthWest Service, and North Central Service lines starting Monday, May 4.

On the Heritage Corridor and North Central Service, the schedule will be temporarily reduced to one inbound trip in the morning and one outbound trip in the evening. On the SouthWest Service, there temporarily will be two inbound trips in the morning and two outbound trips in the evening. See the new schedules below or view them at metrarail.com. Obviously these changes are going to cause major inconveniences for some riders, who may need to use other means to get to work, such as driving.

“We hope our customers understand why we are making these schedule reductions,” said Metra CEO Jim Derwinski in a statement. “We are trying to find the balance between providing service for essential workers while stemming the huge losses we are seeing in fare revenue and sales taxes, our two major sources of operating funding. We are being forced to make some tough decisions.”

During its April board meeting, Metra outlined a preliminary estimate that it will lose about $535.5 million in fares and sales tax in 2020 and 2021 due to this crisis. "There are many assumptions built in to that estimate that are almost certain to change," the railroad stated in a news release. "Metra is expecting about $480 million in federal relief aid. The schedule reductions announced today are expected to save about $470,000 a month in labor and fuel costs."

The temporary schedule changes are being made due to strikingly low ridership under the current schedules, which are already reduced from the regular weekday schedules:

    • On the Heritage Corridor, the three morning inbound and four afternoon/evening outbound trains have been serving a total of about 35 riders per day.
    • On the North Central Service, the five morning inbound and five afternoon/evening outbound trains have been serving a total of about 65 riders a day. Off-peak trains have been serving only a handful of riders each.
    • On the SouthWest Service, the five morning inbound and five afternoon/evening outbound trains have been serving a total of about 120 riders a day. Off-peak trains have been serving only a handful of riders each.

Metra promises that all trains will have enough cars for customers to be able to practice social distancing, and the railroad will be prepared to add trains when ridership begins to return to normal. In addition, some riders on the Heritage Corridor and SouthWest Service lines may be able to use the Rock Island or BNSF lines as alternatives, and some riders on the North Central Service may be able to use the Milwaukee District North or UP Northwest lines as alternatives. Pace may also be an alternative for some riders.

So hang in there, Metra commuters. Hopefully these cuts won't be too much of a hassle or a hardship for you, and service will return to full strength after the pandemic is just a bad memory.

Here are some tips on preventing the spread of COVID-19, and advice for Chicagoans on what to do if you think you may have been exposed to the virus. 

Screen Shot 2020-04-30 at 5.17.08 PM
Screen Shot 2020-04-30 at 5.17.32 PM

Screen Shot 2020-04-30 at 5.17.40 PM

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog Chicago

We are all in an underperforming Chicagoland transit network. But some of us are looking at the Star:Line.

According to Star:Line Chicago, "The 2034sight Plan is an ambitious — and achievable — ten-year framework to lay the groundwork to modernize Chicagoland’s existing local passenger rail system."

July 19, 2024

A semi driver fatally struck a person walking on Lower Wacker Drive. Did a locked gate contribute to the crash?

The victim may have been walking in the street because a gate limiting pedestrian access on the south side of Wacker was locked at the time.

July 19, 2024

This is Grand! CDOT cuts ribbon on new protected bike lanes on a key West Side diagonal street

The project also has lots of other nifty Complete Streets features, like raised crosswalks, bus islands, and the conversion of a dangerous slip lane to a new plaza.

July 18, 2024
See all posts