Discussion related to commuter rail and rapid transit operations in the Chicago area including the South Shore Line, Metra Rail, and Chicago Transit Authority.

Moderators: JamesT4, metraRI

  by erie910
 
I will be in the western suburbs the week after Labor Day, and I plan to take a day to ride more of Metra (before our granddaughter moves to South Carolina). Here is my planned itinerary:

#1370, Aurora to Union Station, 8:14a-9:07a
#317, Millennium Station to 93rd St., 9:40a-10:19a
#318, 93rd St. to 59th St., 10:50a-11:10a
#119, 59th St. to University Park, 11:36a-12:20p
#124, University Park to 59th St., 12:47p-1:30p
#227, 59th St. to Blue Island, 3:18p-3:52p
#620, Blue Island to LaSalle St. Station, 4:25p-5:11p (Rock Island Line)
#1271, Union Station to Aurora, 5:32p-6:32p

Does this itinerary seem feasible? I'm not sure how long the walk between Union Station and Millennium Station will take, plus the time to buy the multiple tickets for the IC electric service.

Is 59th St. a reasonably safe place to wait for the 1:45 between the train from University Park and the train to Blue Island? I'm not opposed to going all the way back to Millennium Station from University Park and taking #227 from there to Blue Island.

Are there ticket agents at any stations besides Aurora, Union Station, Millennium Station? I have the RTA discount fare card, and I understand that automated ticket dispensers cannot issue discount fare tickets. If I have to buy all the IC electric tickets at Millennium Station, will the ticket agent give me any grief for buying so many tickets for trains so close in time to each other? If there is no agent at Blue Island, can the Millennium Station agent sell me a ticket for the Blue Island to LaSalle St. Station ride? I think that there is a slight difference between the Rock Island and IC fares between Blue Island and Chicago.

Any suggestions on changes in the proposed itinerary are most welcome, as well as suggestions of things to watch for and to see.

Aside from the interchange where the South Shore/Kensington & Eastern leaves the IC line, are there any crossings of other rail lines? I'm familiar with a crossing on the Rock Island line, but not with anything else.

Thanks in advance for your help.
  by jonnhrr
 
30 minutes should be fine for walking from Union Station to Millenium. It is about 10 blocks I think. I have done Union Sta to Wabash St. with luggage and it is pleasant if the weather is good. You get to cross the Chicago river which is cool.
  by CHTT1
 
Except for your initial trip from Millenium Station, feel free to buy your Metra Electric tickets from the conductor. Everytime I ride ME from a non-downtown station, I just buy my ticket from the conductor with my senior card. Since you can't buy a senior ticket from the ticket machine, there's no extra charge.
  by CHTT1
 
You could buy all your tickets at Millenium if time permits. Attitude of the ticket agent will vary.


55th-56th=57th Street would be a better place to wait between trains. It's much busier than 59th and is physically a nicer place. You shouldn't have any problems.
  by erie910
 
Thanks for your responses, and I look forward to this trip. Just hope that I can find a parking place at Aurora!
  by doepack
 
erie910 wrote: Wed Aug 21, 2019 10:03 pm Does this itinerary seem feasible? I'm not sure how long the walk between Union Station and Millennium Station will take, plus the time to buy the multiple tickets for the IC electric service.
Union Station and Millennium station are just over a mile apart, and even if you're able to walk briskly, it would take about 20 minutes. If you ride in from Aurora on 1370, catching an uber or taxi to Millennium would save you a little time; otherwise you may want to try 1252 out of Aurora (the train ahead of your planned 1370), and gets to CUS at 8:46.
erie910 wrote: Wed Aug 21, 2019 10:03 pmAside from the interchange where the South Shore/Kensington & Eastern leaves the IC line, are there any crossings of other rail lines? I'm familiar with a crossing on the Rock Island line, but not with anything else.
According to your itinerary, you'll ride the Rock between Blue Island and LaSalle St. via the Beverly branch. Along the way, Gresham Jct. will come up first, and is of course where the Beverly branch re-joins the main line. A bit further north you'll go over the new Englewood flyover, up and over the NS Chicago line; the Rock crossed this line at grade until 2014. Around 47th St., you'll see Metra's maintenance facility for the Rock Island district, and every now and then there's something interesting hanging out in the yard adjacent to the shops. Then there's the CN/St. Charles Air line crossing at 16th st. tower, about 1 1/2 miles south of the LaSalle St. terminal. When it comes to potential interesting rail related sightings, this leg of your journey looks to be your best bet.

Have fun, and happy railfanning...
  by MACTRAXX
 
E910:

Interesting itinerary to cover Metra Electric and part of the Rock Island for one weekday...

First - I agree with Dorian to allow yourself more time to walk between Union and Millenium Stations
by using an earlier eastbound BNSF train so you could see Downtown Chicago and not have to rush...

CHTT mentions changing at 55-56-57 Streets coming north from South Chicago to catch your southbound
University Park train. This is in Hyde Park adjacent to one of my all-time favorite Chicago places to visit-
The Museum of Science and Industry. It is well worth a visit if you have the time for a full day...
The Hyde Park/University of Chicago area is one of the best neighborhoods on Chicago's South Side...

The one problem I noticed is that it is only 21 minutes from when your RI train arrives at LaSalle Street
to walk over to Union Station to get your westbound train back to Aurora. Check the BNSF schedule and
see if there is a limited stop train that runs later than 5:32 PM so you do not have to again rush back to
Union Station - especially if the RI train runs late northbound...

By all means enjoy the ride and post back afterwards...MACTRAXX
  by ExCon90
 
This may not be an issue today, but do the bridges have to be raised much anymore? Back in the 1920's the PRR had a note in its timetable that if the bridges were raised within 5 minutes prior to a scheduled departure the train would be held in the station until the bridges were down. Even if that happens only occasionally today it would be very frustrating if it happened just when you need to get from La Salle St. to Union Station.
  by MetraBNSF
 
ExCon90 wrote: Mon Aug 26, 2019 2:50 pm This may not be an issue today, but do the bridges have to be raised much anymore? Back in the 1920's the PRR had a note in its timetable that if the bridges were raised within 5 minutes prior to a scheduled departure the train would be held in the station until the bridges were down. Even if that happens only occasionally today it would be very frustrating if it happened just when you need to get from La Salle St. to Union Station.
There’s generally a set time (usually middle of the week during the midday) when the bridges are raised. Usually in the spring and fall when sailboats are coming and going from the lake.
  by erie910
 
Again, thanks for all your comments. Catching an earlier train from Aurora might be a possibility, since it also increases the possibility of finding a parking spot there. :-)

I've been through downtown Chicago many times, so I'm not planning on seeing the sights between stations. Bing Maps says 16 minutes between Union Station and Millennium Station (last time that I rode to/from that station, it was called "Randolph St. Station"). I'm a native of the east, and I worked in NYC for a number of years. I found it to be faster to walk or take a subway between points than to take a bus or taxi--Uber and Lyft hadn't been established back then. I'm a pretty fast walker, as well.

Ah, yes, opening bridges. When I was a kid, I had to walk across a swing bridge over the Passaic River to get to the bus to get to school. One morning, the bridge opened for a tanker, but would not close again. It took over 9 months of repairs to get it to the point that it would close again. That, of course, altered my transportation pattern to/from school.

I did the Rock Island before, and was fascinated by it; I'd like to do it again. I think that it took me 10-15 minutes to walk from LaSalle St. Station to Union Station. If I miss 1271 (5:32p out of Union Station), I can always catch 1279 at 5:50p.

Instead of changing at 59th or 55-56-57 on my way back from University Park, I might take the University Park train all the way to Millennium and then take the Blue Island train from there.

Another option is, if I catch an earlier train from Aurora is to catch an earlier train out of Millennium and go to University Park first. I think that I need a Plan A and a Plan B.


Erie910
  by ExCon90
 
Thanks to justalurker for the bridge schedule--I had no idea that information was available.
  by MetraBNSF
 
erie910 wrote: Mon Aug 26, 2019 10:33 pm Again, thanks for all your comments. Catching an earlier train from Aurora might be a possibility, since it also increases the possibility of finding a parking spot there. :-)
Not sure about Aurora but I do know parking at Route 59, Naperville, and even Downers Grove can fill up as early as 7am. It’s especially amazing how quickly 59 can fill up. That’s the busiest station in the entire system outside of the downtown stations.

There’s one thing you’re guaranteed at Aurora. Getting a seat.
  by eolesen
 
Save yourself agony and potential onboard cash ticket fines, and get the Ventra app for your smartphone to buy your tickets. You can buy the reduced rate and show your card if asked.
  by Tadman
 
CHTT1 wrote: Thu Aug 22, 2019 4:36 pm 55th-56th=57th Street would be a better place to wait between trains. It's much busier than 59th and is physically a nicer place. You shouldn't have any problems.

And Powell's books is right there on 57th, they have a great railroad section in the back. Take a look if you can find the time.