New Metra schedule cuts four midday trains through Evanston


Jonah Elkowitz/The Daily Northwestern

The platform at Evanston’s Davis Street Metra station. A new Metra schedule that took effect Monday cuts four midday trains that run through Evanston on the Union Pacific North line.

Saul Pink, Reporter

Metra cut four midday trains running through Evanston starting Monday, according to the rail system’s new schedule

The trains will stop running to allow for the construction of a new Metra station at Peterson Ridge in Edgewater. The project is set to continue until spring 2023, according to Michael Gillis, Metra’s communications director. 

Trains on the Union Pacific North line that leave Winnetka for Chicago at 10:09 a.m. and 2:09 p.m. are being eliminated. Metra is also removing trains that leave downtown Chicago at 9:02 a.m. and 1:02 p.m. Without these trains, which stopped at all three of Evanston’s Metra stations, residents have fewer options for midday transportation to and from Chicago, as well as suburbs north of Evanston.

SESP junior Lucia Shorr said she takes the Metra to downtown Chicago for a part-time internship. She started using the train a few weeks ago because it was faster than her original route on the Chicago Transit Authority. 

None of the eliminated trains are part of Shorr’s regular commute, she said. 

“I always take the (11:21 a.m. train),” Shorr said. “If they were to cut that one, I’d be really upset.”

Evanston resident Glen Cole commutes on Metra from Evanston’s Main Street station  for his local government job in Lake Bluff, Illinois. Because Cole takes rush-hour trains, Metra’s new changes do not affect him, he said.

During rush hour, every other train only stops at Davis Street, skipping the Main Street and Central Street stations. Commuters can catch a train at Davis Street every 15 minutes during rush-hour but only every 30 minutes at Evanston’s other two stations.

Despite this, Cole said trains arriving every half hour offer enough flexibility for commuters leaving Main Street in the morning.

“Service at Main is important. It’s a big driver of getting people to live in that neighborhood,” Cole said. “It’s important for keeping young professionals and families moving in.”

Although Metra doesn’t run as frequently at Main Street and Central Street, the CTA’s Purple Line reaches those stations, offering an alternative for commuters with more frequent stops and arrivals. 

The new schedule also extends two rush-hour trains – one in the morning and another in the afternoon – to continue to Kenosha, Wisconsin, rather than having them terminate in Waukegan, Illinois. This change does not impact commuters in Evanston.

“Those are existing trains that now originate from and terminate at Waukegan, so the changes only create new service for riders north of Waukegan,” Gillis said. 

As public transit organizations lift mask mandates and riders start getting back on their typical transit schedule, Cole said trains are more crowded, but still largely remain desolate.

Metra estimated about 239,000 passengers on the Union Pacific North line in March, compared to 674,305 in February 2020, just before the pandemic started. 

“I see the train getting a bit more and more full by the day,” Cole said. “But it’s still pretty low compared to before COVID.”

Email: [email protected] 

Twitter: @saullpink

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