Metra

In yet another move to accommodate returning commuters as the pandemic eases, Metra announced Wednesday that it is adding Electric Line service in July as well as “enhancing” the line’s timetable.

A new “pilot” schedule with more off-peak options will start July 12 on the Electric line, Metra said. The new schedule comes in response to riders’ evolving needs as COVID-19 restrictions ease. 

The pilot schedule replaces pre-pandemic schedules that “prioritized peak rush-hour service in favor of a more balanced approach that spreads out the service to offer better off-peak options,” the agency said. “The schedules also have been reimagined with more memorable timetables and service patterns.”

The pilot schedule shows slight changes to the times of some existing trains while showing the new trains. For example, inbound morning train No. 314, which currently boards at 59th Street (University Of Chicago) at 9:02 a.m., will board at 8:55 a.m. under the new schedule. Riders who use that station will see new trains at 7:51 and 7:58 a.m. In addition, the new schedule lists 10 inbound morning morning trains between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m., versus eight currently.

The pilot schedule can be viewed at:

https://metrarail.com/sites/default/files/assets/communications/2021.07.12_med_pilot_web.pdf

“With this pilot program, we are testing schedules that have changed with our riders’ changing needs. We think flexibility is the new currency in a post-pandemic economy," Metra CEO/Executive Director Jim Derwinski said in a statement. “We look forward to our riders’ return, and we will welcome them with clean, safe trains and schedules that meet their needs.”

With ridership steadily increasing from pandemic lows, Metra said it will add service to all of its lines starting in July and will also introduce the enhanced pilot schedules on three other lines.

Metra ridership hit a pandemic low of 3 percent of normal ridership in April 2020 and plateaued at about 10 percent for much of 2020, the agency said. Since January, ridership has been steadily rising and this week reached 17 percent of pre-pandemic levels.

On May 10, Metra added four trains to the Electric Line’s weekday schedule, four trains to the weekend schedule, and adjusted the schedules and/or stopping patterns of seven additional trains. That service was added to accommodate returning riders and to provide transportation to a new Amazon facility to be built in University Park.

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