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 dinwitty
 
oh, bring back the streetcar and reach out to all those car drivers. Then you can dump all them parking lots and put business/apartments above whatever.

Wrigley field contantly brings in 40,000+ every game and not everyone can get there via automobile, you have to take the CTA and it works, well, you are probably driving to a distant CTA station and riding in or whatever railroad/driving combinations work.
  by eolesen
 
We don't need streetcars. Buses were the logical extension of that, and there are already PACE and even CTA buses that drop off at Metra stations today for last-mile transport.

The problem is population density: buses and streetcars only work where there's an audience to be carried... That's not going to exist in >80% of the suburbs or exurbs.
  by justalurker66
 
Bus service needs to overcome the stigma. Trains don't have as much of a stigma (although sometimes they are not much better for comfort). People would rather drive to a station than ride a bus.
  by erie910
 
Bus service needs to overcome the issues of traffic. As long as there is traffic congestion, bus service is a problem.

The idea of constructing housing in place of parking areas has another issue: Desirability. Will there be rental property or ownership? Will there be a sufficient diversity of design to attract residents? Will rents or sale prices be competitive? As has been pointed out, don't take away existing parking, as that will discourage current rail commuters from continuing to commute by rail.
  by Tadman
 
I think Chicago is pretty good about not having "parking lot stations", at least compared to other big cities. Most older suburbs grew up around the station and have pretty dense housing nearby. My sister walks 6 blocks to the BNSF every day like it's no big deal.
  by njtmnrrbuff
 
There is nothing wrong with having "parking lot" stations but if possible, we want them as close to downtown as much as possible. Metra seems good about that. I know that the majority of stations along the BNSF Line are in the downtown areas; if not, then they are within walking distance. The same goes for the UP-West Line.

Here in the NYC area where I live, many of the commuter rail stations are in business districts.
  by R36 Combine Coach
 
njt/mnrrbuff wrote: Fri Oct 04, 2019 7:00 pmThere is nothing wrong with having "parking lot" stations but if possible, we want them as close to downtown as much as possible. Metra seems good about that. I know that the majority of stations along the BNSF Line are in the downtown areas; if not, then they are within walking distance.
Route 128-Westwood (1953) and Jersey Avenue (1963) proved that a park-ride can be very successful even outside a downtown commercial area. Today many new stations are such.
  by Arborwayfan
 
I think the that apartments or condos next to stations would fill. Just because some people want big houses and yards doesn't mean everyone does, or that everyone wants or can buy one their whole life. From the towns' perspective, such development would be ideal, because it would bring in property tax with relatively small number of children to educate, small length of streets to care for, etc.

I rode Frontrunner a few times between Ogden and Salt Lake City this summer, and noticed sets of apartment buildings next to a couple of the stations. (The others are mostly in commercial areas.) They seemd to have people living in them.

I never heard anyone say parking garages caused crime before. That's interesting. I always thought of garages as slightly classier than parking lots (maybe because they tend to charge more than lots when they are at airports). Most of the spots are covered; if they are under a housing complex, they can be locked and restricted to residents.
  by Engineer Spike
 
I think that part of the issue is the suburban sprawl. As many know, I started my railroad career with newly formed BNSF in Aurora. I left that job almost 20 years ago for one back east. Every few years I go back to visit friends. It also helps that my wife is a buff, and she likes to go out there. Each time more and more has built up. This now extends past the traditional boundary of Chicagoland, which had been Joliet, Aurora, and Elgin. A few years ago we had a thread about expanding BNSF service to Sandwich.

I think that these parking lot stations come in two varieties. First there are places like Route 59. That pulls in riders likely from places like Plainfield, Winfield, and Bolingbrook, and even southern Naperville, which aren't on any of the commuter lines. Sure, these customers could be well served by comprehensive bus service to the station. The second group are the rat race escapees. With the Chicagoland housing prices, choked roads. I think many of these people drive into stations near the end of the line. These people don't want to move to housing right near the station. I can see that the point about Tinley. I'll bet many come there from places south of the suburban area. Just like the western suburbs and beyond, bus service is slim to none.

In the Sandwich extension thread, the point was made that many who live out there work locally, or go to the industrial and office complexes around Aurora and Naperville. There's go to be a percentage who are willing to live the country life, yet commute to Chicago every day. Has a poll been taken at these parking lot stations, which asks where the customers live? It would be neat to see how far some come from. I'll bet that even DeKalb has some Chicago commuters.
  by njtmnrrbuff
 
I once rode a Metra train on the Racetrack and that was in 2015 from Naperville to Chicago. I have ridden Amtrak trains along the Racetrack four times. I'm not too surprised that soaring home prices in Chicago and the immediate suburbs are a factor for people moving further west. Having seen Rt. 59 Station from trains, I notice that there is a very big parking lot there and that helps people who live probably in the western part of Naperville as well as even further west. Hopefully someday, Metra can run some more super express trains out that way. I hear proposals on and off about extending Metra west of Aurora which might not be a bad idea. I see that Aurora is about 42 miles from Chicago and a Metra super express train between the two places takes at least 53 minutes and that's not bad.

Being that I live in the NJ near NYC, I can give many comparisons for the commuter rail routes there as well as commuting distance. NYC has extremely expensive home prices and more and more people are moving away from the city. In NJT land, a trip from NYP to Dover on an express train takes anywhere between an hour and ten minutes to an hour and fifteen minutes. Unlike the Metra BNSF Main, the NJT Morris & Essex Line isn't that straight of a route. It's pretty direct from NWK Broad to Morristown but once you get west of Morristown, there are so many curves. If you ever need to travel from NYC to Denville or Dover on weekends by train, don't if you can. The trains are locals and they take an hour and a half from NYP to Denville and then about an hour and thirty five minutes from Dover to NYP. Taking a NJT train on the NEC from Princeton Jct to NYP is faster than driving. Just like the Metra super expresses during the rush hour that stop at Naperville, Route 59, and Aurora, NJT's answer to that is the 3900 series trains which many of them run nonstop from NWK Penn Station to Princeton Junction and then stop at Hamilton and Trenton. New York Penn Station to Princeton Jct is about 60 miles. Some of those NJT 3900 series trains make the first stop at New Brunswick after Newark but those are typically reverse peak trains. So many people commute on those trains who live in Mercer, parts of Middlesex, and even further south.
  by CarterB
 
dinwitty wrote: Fri Jan 26, 2018 9:32 pm remember the streetcar? Why dont you bring them back and stretch them to the commuter. Then they dont have to drive.
That's exactly what was done and works quite well in Jersey City NJ with the Hudson-Bergen light rail line. If they extend it to the Vince Lombardi Park and Ride and/or the old Erie Northern branch, even more commuters. The Norristown high speed line in Philly similar, as is the River Line Trenton NJ area.
  by justalurker66
 
The Census tracks commuter flow. From 2011-2015 they estimate 49,308 people commuted from homes in DeKalb County. 30k stayed within DeKalb county for work. 7,676 went to Kane County, 3,197 went to DuPage County. Cook county drew 2,056 commuters, not far ahead of Kendall County at 1,926.

Not a lot of people crossing the line. DeKalb County was 12th on the list of residence counties for people working in Cook County. Beat by Lake and Porter County Indiana and Kenosha County Illinois.
  by Disney Guy
 
njt/mnrrbuff wrote: Fri Oct 04, 2019 7:00 pm There is nothing wrong with having "parking lot" stations but if possible, we want them as close to downtown as much as possible. Metra seems good about that. I know that the majority of stations along the BNSF Line are in the downtown areas; if not, then they are within walking distance. The same goes for the UP-West Line.

Here in the NYC area where I live, many of the commuter rail stations are in business districts.
Disadvantages of major park and ride close to a satellite city's downtown:
1. Longer distance commuters have to slog through traffic and lights to get to/from the station.
2. Added congestion downtown after an afternoon train pulls in and then lots of cars are waiting to exit the lot.
3. Commuters impatient and rude, running for their cars after getting off the outbound train in order to be closer to the front of the queue of cars exiting.

I would favor emphasizing modest priced as opposed to luxury housing clustered around transit stations. Housing units and/or lots would be on average smaller so there would be more units for more riders on the trains.
  by eolesen
 
Huh. We're in the middle of a viral crisis that seems to be spread where there's high density housing and a huge reliance on public transit.

And we should encourage more of that?.... There's a reason that the counties *outside* Metra's service area have only 1-5 cases compared to hundreds in the counties adjacent to Cook...
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  by justalurker66
 
OK ... now look at a population heat map for the State of Illinois. COVID-19 is spreading where there are people. The more people, the more likely the virus will spread. Packed trains and buses don't help, but packed cities are the bigger problem.

And now back to the topic at hand. "Parking Lot" stations where commuters arrive by car to ride the train into the central city.