CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago’s reopening means more people traveling into the city, with more cars already on the roads.
But when will Metra add more trains to its schedule? CBS 2’s Steven Graves searched for some answers to that question on Thursday.
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Metra has told us before – getting fully back on track is a slow process.
But while Chicago’s reopening plans are speeding up, Graves asked a Metra spokesperson if there is a week or date that Metra has set to bring things back to normal.
“No, we don’t have a concrete date in mind,” said Metra spokesman Michael Gillis.
What they do have are gradual plans. More trains and time slots launched in mid-April, and more weekday and weekend trains are also coming to the Metra Electric line next Monday.
“We heard from some people that they would like to go to a new job site in University Park,” Gillis said.
And that is how Metra is fueling its changes – based off rider feedback and demand. And that ridership grows every week.
On Wednesday, it hit a high of 32,000 riders systemwide. That is up from 29,000 a day last month.
The average pre-pandemic was 275,000 riders.
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But adding more trains is a balancing act – one that evaluates money and capacity limits.
“Every three or four weeks, we are adjusting one or two schedules of our eleven lines,” Gillis said. “We expect that to continue.”
Over on the Chicago Transit Authority, the system is running at full service.
But rides on trans and buses are also still down from normal – only at about 30 percent of pre-pandemic operations.
Numbers on both systems could rise if they mirror what’s happening on the roads right now.
“What we’re seeing is overall, traffic volume is just about back to where it was. But the patterns are different,” said Dan Ginsburg, who analyzes data from TrafficCarma.
Ginsburg said more people are traveling on the roads – not during rush hour – but throughout all hours of the day. And summertime usually sees a spike.
“Public transit is a big part of it, and there are two pieces of that,” Ginsburg said. “One is how are businesses going to be handling when their employees are coming in, and the other is what are people’s comfort levels going to be?”
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Both Metra and the CTA say they will ramp up campaigns to increase people’s comfort level on public transit.