Chicago L station ridership (and inequity?)

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MikefromCrete

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Having run-through service in major cities has a nice planning ring to it, but how useful is it, actually? Since Philadelphia is only U.S. city operating on such a concept, let's look at it. How many passengers actually "ride through" the center city from suburb to suburb? Probably very few. I suspect the former Reading and PRR route trains empty out at the center city stations and fill up there with new passengers.
As far as Chicago goes, I suppose it would be possible to run through BNSF and Southwest Service trains with the Milwaukee District trains, but to what purpose? Do that many people want to ride from Oak Lawn to Glenview?
As to frequency, Metra already offers hourly service on weekdays on its major lines --- Electric, Rock Island, BNSF, UP routes and Milwaukee routes. Only the smaller ridership lines -- SouthWest, North Central and Heritage lack frequent mid day service. Would increasing frequency to half-hourly be good? Sure. I'm not sure 15 minute service would accomplish anything.
And let's not forget, that the building of the Red Line/Dan Ryan CTA extension to 95th Street disssemated ridership on the IC and Rock Island inner city stations, resulting in service cuts.
 
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I love how this thread has devolved into chatter about India....

I actually think that there would be a lot of usage for run through service in Chicago, I'm thinking from the south side to the job centers in the NW and northern suburbs (although to Schaumberg would be where people need to go, which isn't well served by Metra). I think if it was possible, there would be a shift of retail and jobs - albeit gradually - to places with access. Since it doesn't exist now, nobody does it and I'm not sure which lines would warrant pairing but it would enable more frequent rush hour service on some lines by the trains running through CUS and then on to whichever line to then reverse to serve inbound or at the very least through to the yard - yard space is one reason MED can offer more frequent service throughout the day and at rush hour (MED already offers service, even with the reduced covid schedule, about every 20 minutes at stations from 63rd to downtown both in and out bound until early evening, with some limited and expresses against the rush as well - MED's biggest scheduling downfall is poor evening service with only hourly service after 7:30).
 

jis

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MED is a typical example of a line that falls in characteristics somewhere between a outer suburbs suburban line and and inner suburb almost Metro-like line. It is possible to run dual service with the outer suburb service skipping most of the inner suburb For example NJT does that in spades on the NEC, even though all the inner suburb characteristics of that line was destroyed quite a while back by shutting down many stations. MED is lucky to have not done that in some sense.
 
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True, I mean, it was originally just the plain old main line that the re-routed to serve Chicago and parts of it are in high density areas, but most of it's service territory is essentially suburban in character, even within the City.
 
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Back in 1971, my sister was at the University of Chicago, and she told me to ride the IC trains (now Metra Electric) to get to her place in Hyde Park. It seemed to be a lot like rapid-transit service, as they even used early farecard/faregate technology. Back in 2013, I used MED to visit the Museum of Science and Industry. At the last Gathering, we rode down to Blue Island and back. The discount fare pilot is one thing that's good, but I think they'll need to increase frequencies if the service is going to be the equivalent of the L.
 
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MED is a typical example of a line that falls in characteristics somewhere between a outer suburbs suburban line and and inner suburb almost Metro-like line. It is possible to run dual service with the outer suburb service skipping most of the inner suburb For example NJT does that in spades on the NEC, even though all the inner suburb characteristics of that line was destroyed quite a while back by shutting down many stations. MED is lucky to have not done that in some sense.
Also, both the SEPTA Chestnut Hill lines (East and West). They're entirely within the borders of the City of Philadelphia. Also, service on the former Reading RR main line between Fern Rock and Center City via Wayne Junction and Temple University. In addition, there's the SEPTA airport line. All of these serve city destinations, but they would benefit from some increased frequency to be useful to local people.
 
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NorthShore

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A couple of additional historical tidbits as relates to Chicago commuter lines:

As CTA expanded and modernized, there were often agreements with the historic commuter systems (like C&NW) allowing the latter to get out of inner city service. (There used to be a lot more stops.) Realize that a fair number of these stations (including some stops which still exist) were even outside the city when the railroads were built. And since these lines frequently long predated "rapid transit" they had significant passenger counts in city. This sort of scenario is seen, again, today at a stop like Ravenswood, one of the highest passenger loads on the entire Metra system, simply because it's more convenient (and express) to a west loop office environment of employees who can afford the fare. This despite there being an L stop three blocks away. And, from an historic reverse commute perspective, these city stations lasted in part to get the servant class out to the nice houses in the richest suburbs. If Ravenswood hadn't had industry and maids in the area, it wouldn't be around today, either. One of the reasons there are still northwest side stops on the MDW is because Chicago Rapid Transit eliminated the North Ave L branch decades ago.

Hourly midday headways were fairly common, even on interurban routes, for much of Chicago commuter rail going back decades. So things today are built upon the 1950s. Any time suburbs ask for increased service outside rush hour, they're told "no budget for that."

The I.C./ME is a little different with its branch lines and extra tracks. I was an advocate of a Gathering trip to 93rd/South Chicago, as it shows a very different side of the system that, essentially, functions like light rail rather than commuter service (and has, therefore, been debated as a candidate for some sort of CTA conversion.)

Local farebox recovery rates versus operating subsidy is, historically, high compared to systems in other cities. Somewhat surprizing for an historic system, but probably self explanatory there too...always been that way.

Traditionally, getting city and suburbs (let alone "downstate") to collaborate on these things is next to impossible.
 
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NorthShore

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Also, most commuter lines in Chicago have three tracks. This allows for either express service or extra freight capacity (though the latter is, typically, limited during rush hours.) Some local transit advocates would like to see more short turns at closer in suburban stations, enabling greater frequencies and capacity where there's the most significant demand for seats and railcar equipment.

Unfortunately, some of this capacity has been cut, for instance on the UPN by eliminating one track in some areas as part of modernizing stations and saving costs on rebuilding urban bridges.
 
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Having run-through service in major cities has a nice planning ring to it, but how useful is it, actually? Since Philadelphia is only U.S. city operating on such a concept, let's look at it. How many passengers actually "ride through" the center city from suburb to suburb? Probably very few. I suspect the former Reading and PRR route trains empty out at the center city stations and fill up there with new passengers.
I think the primary benefit of run through in Philadelphia is access to more center city stations from either side of the network. Riders from the former PRR side can now access Jefferson, Temple U, Wayne Jct. etc. Riders on the former RDG side can access 30th Street station and University City. Before the connection was built, this was at least a 3 seat ride using the MFSE and probably some walking.

Although Philly does a better job that some cities, it did close a number of inner city stations (Tioga, Nicetown, Logan, 52nd. St.) and downgraded some e.g. North Broad, presumably to speed up service for suburban users at the expense of those in the inner city.

(I am a former Philly area resident 1977 - 2001)
 
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