Indeed, a system slow to change and an industry often stuck in its ways.As Chicago area residents who attend 20 or so theater and similar events per year, I find Metra generally unusable for them. For evening events, generally the 10:30-10:40 trains are too early and the 12:30-12:40 trains too late. Having departures at around 11:30 would make it far more usable. And the Sunday every two hours schedule is pretty much a non-starter for Sunday events.
BTW, with regards to them not cutting train lengths, I have said that Metra is an acronym for "Making Empty Traincars Roll Around". OTOH, even with the long trains, they often don't open enough cars initially. When using Metra did work for our theater schedule, we'd take the 10:40 MD-W train home. I guess based on a service plan that was probably 30+ years old, it seemed the plan was to only have two cars open. And it seemed every time, at 10:39, the train crew would walk from the gate to the train, find a crush load on the two cars they had open, open more cars, and start moving people. After that, by the time we were ready to depart, we were already two to three minutes late.
This is big, thanks for bringing this up! Recreational/shopping/pleasure travel has been much more important since the pandemic hit and I think that's a demographic all transit agencies should be going after, because the crush of 9-5 business commuters is not going to work anymore (newsflash: it never did). Special events are a big deal because it's often difficult to find good directions, connections, and times, so most people throw their hands up and drive even if they have to pay $25+ for parking and wait to exit a 6-floor garage for half an hour.Indeed, a system slow to change and an industry often stuck in its ways.
It's fascinating how at railfan events downtown (like C.E.R.A.) there is an understanding that they have to end by 9:00 so everyone can "catch their trains." I've also seen people rush out of concerts before encores or final numbers because either train schedules or parking limits are closing in. Better coordination with who the transit passengers are and where their customers are coming from is desperately needed. It seems that planners all go home to outlying areas at 5 P.M. not realizing there is life after work.
I love that idea, more artists should definitely do something similar.Honestly we need to do better about servicing events. They are large ridership draws if you manage them right. I remember once Sir Paul McCartney decided he wanted to do a "Green Concert" where everyone arrived by public transit in Atlanta of all places. By far it was the best concert I've ever been to. It was at Piedmont Park in Atlanta. As part of the concert it was encouraged to arrive via MARTA. Coming into the concert wasn't that bad because people started coming in at 10AM like I did so I could be near the front. But when we left it was a gigantic mess to get a train because they weren't running that frequent despite a concert of over 70K guests descending on the Midtown MARTA station. Better planning could have helped.