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Metra's 'reverse-commute' rail service attracts new riders

In fourth-quarter 2019, the MetraMore reverse-commute service between Chicago and Lake County, Illinois, logged an average increase of 550 trips per day.
Photo – Metra


A two-year "reverse-commute" pilot project between Metra and a group of suburban Chicago businesses and governments has exceeded its ridership goal for its first year, Metra officials announced yesterday.

In fourth-quarter 2019, the MetraMore reverse-commute service between Chicago and Lake County, Illinois, logged an average increase of 550 trips per day, Metra officials said in a press release.

Metra added trains and adjusted the schedules of others on the Milwaukee District North Line (MD-N) to create a reverse-commute service to Lake County, Illinois, that began on March 4, 2019. Metra launched the project with Lake County Partners, an economic development corporation in Lake County, Illinois.

The business group had reached out to Metra in an effort to attract young professionals living in Chicago to accept jobs in Lake County by offering a reverse-commute service.

In establishing MetraMore, the partnership set a target of 600 new passenger trips a day on the MD-N and Union Pacific North Line (which also serves Lake County) by the end of the second year. The first-year target was 300 new trips a day.

Although some fluctuations in ridership occurred during the test's early months, the overall trend has been positive, with all members of the public-private partnership "extremely encouraged and satisfied," Metra officials said.

"The results so far are more than encouraging — they are phenomenal,” said Metra Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director Jim Derwinski. “We agreed to this pilot because we thought it could build our ridership, help local businesses to recruit top talent and have a positive impact on economic activity in Lake County, and we think that is exactly what is happening."

Participating in the agreement with Metra are AbbVie, Horizon Therapeutics, Trustmark Insurance, Tenneco, Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital, Lake County government, the city of Lake Forest, Lake Forest Hospital and the village of Deerfield, Illinois.

“Business thrives in Lake County because of the strong talent pipeline, and MetraMore makes it even easier for our corporate partners to attract and retain the best workforce in the region. Based on the early ridership numbers, we’re certain that the new schedule is meeting local needs, in addition to reducing pollution and roadway congestion and improving employee productivity and satisfaction," Lake County Partners President and CEO Kevin Considine.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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