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March 2010 Archives

Are you working on Good Friday?

Many people are but quite a few try to get out of the office a little early and the good folks at Metra are making some accomodations to help them out. Some earlier times have been added and some times have been canceled.

Here's a listing of what is planned:


The special schedule will include the regular weekday schedule with additional trains running in the late afternoon and a few later rush period trains canceled, according to a release from Metra.

For instance, on the Union Pacific North line, additional trains will run at 3:15 and 5:11 p.m., and the 5:10 (No. 343) and 5:15 p.m. (No. 345) trains will be canceled.

On the Milwaukee District North line, the 2:25 p.m. train will run express to Glenview then makes all stops to Fox Lake. The 5:15 and 5:25 p.m. trains will make some additional stops and the 5:12 p.m. train will be canceled.

The 3:20 p.m. train on the Union Pacific Northwest line will run express to Mount Prospect then makes all stops to Crystal Lake, the release said. Also on that line, the 3:25 p.m. (No. 623) train will make all stops to Palatine. The 4:57 p.m. (No. 635), 4:20 p.m. (No. 650), and 6:01 p.m. (No. 651) trains will be canceled.

The Milwaukee District West line will have an additional 3:25 p.m. train, running express to Bensenville then making all stops to Big Timber, while the 5:23 p.m. (No. 2239) train will make all stops from Bensenville to Big Timber. The 5:17 p.m. (No. 2237) train will be canceled.

On the Union Pacific West line, an additional train, at 3:30 p.m., will run express to Elmhurst then makes all stops to La Fox. The 5:42 p.m. (No. 57) train will make an extra stop at Oak Park. The 5:34 p.m. (No. 55) train will be canceled.

Additional trains will run at 2:25 p.m. and 3:50 p.m. on the BNSF line.

The Southwest Service will have one additional train, at 3:40 p.m., making all stops to Manhattan. The 6:15 p.m. (No. 831) Southwest Service train will be canceled.

The Rock Island District will have an additional train at 2:45 p.m.

The Metra Electric District will have additional trains at 1:25 p.m., 2:25 p.m., and 3:15 p.m. The additional trains will not stop at Van Buren or the Museum Campus/11th Street stops. The 4:50 p.m. (No. 733), 5:05 p.m. (No. 735) and 5:20 p.m. (No. 737) trains will be canceled.

'Is this seat taken?'

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With construction on the Eisenhower Expressway starting this spring, a trip from the suburbs to downtown Chicago by car is likely to be a slog of an adventure. Or, as our sister paper, the big city Sun-Times labeled the project: "Yikes! On the Ike." And that means more and more commuters will start using Metra for their daily trek to work or play heading eastward ho! With that in mind, a Chicago radio station Thursday morning took to the rails to seek advice from rail warriors for the "newbies." Metra's Web site has a section for new riders but it's always best to get info from those truly in the know. The usual tips, such as getting an early start (try the 5 a.m. trains was a bit of widsom), was meshed with a curious warning about respecting your elders, so to speak. In other words: Know your place, rookie. It kind of reminded me of the speech by the guard to the group of new prisoners in "Cool Hand Luke." Cross the line and pay the fine! Run afoul of the rules and riders will call on a uniformed guard, er, conductor, to straighten you out, one woman said. One of the tips was that new riders need to respect the fact that vets have favorite seats, and parking yourself in one will result in a quick rebuke. It made me think that these veteran riders are a lot like Illinois politicians -- the ones who hold their public offices for so long they think of them as their own, not the public's, and literally bequeath them to family or trusted coat-holders. There's no smoking on the trains but if the picture that has been painted about "newbies" entering the world of Metra is correct, it might behoove them to take a few packs of cigarettes on board to use as peace offerings, you know, like they do in the prison movies.

Motorists in Aurora and the Joliet area will find getting around a little trickier as underground utility work undertaken. In Aurora, the hassle will be for just three days, while in Joliet the disruption will be for three months.
Starting at 8 a.m. on Tuesday (March 23) Ohio Street in Aurora will be closed between Fulton and Fenton streets while underground utility improvements aimed at alleviating sewer basement back-ups, sewer overflows and street flooding are completed. The road is expected to reopen at 5 p.m. on Friday (March 26). We'll let you know if the weather or other forces change that time frame.
In an unincorporated area near Joliet, new sewer and water lines in the Ridgewood neighborhood will close Both Briggs Street to most traffic for about three months.
Work won't begin until the middle of April and should wrap up by mid-July, according to Will County Engineer Bruce Gould. Briggs will be closed between East Cass Street and Copperfield Avenue but it will be open to residents on that section of Briggs or on Sterling, Elgin or Copperfield. The neighborhood, which boasts huge oak trees, has had sewer woes that date to World War II, a time when the area became more urban but relied on rural well and septic systems. A detour route will follow East Cass Street to Gougar Road to Route 6.
An exact date for the work has yet to be determined but message boards will be installed about two weeks before work commences. And we'll let you know when we find out more.

Casual Metra riders are paying more than ever to use the rail system. Since the start of February, anyone simply hopping on Metra for a last-minute, one-way trip instead of taking a car is seeing increased ticket prices. One-way ticket prices rose between 10 cents and 45 cents depending on the distance.

But being a good customer has its perks. And that's exactly what the mass transit provider is trying to push.

Just like frequent flyers who get all the breaks from airlines compared to the last-minute (read infrequent flyers), the some-time Metra user is getting squeezed here. The increases do not impact the more than 79 percent of riders who use 10-ride tickets and monthly passes. Those riders got a pass, so to speak, this time around.

The popular weekend pass, a real bargain for anyone heading to far-flung Chicago events, will still be a relative bargain even though the price jumped 40 percent (from $5 to $7). A 40 percent hike is significant, but the weekend pass price has not changed since the concept started in 1991. That weekend rate has held steady while general rates were raised four times (in 1996, 2002, 2006 and 2008). A little planning will save cash too. Weekend passes are good for unlimited rides on both Saturday and Sunday.

Buying a ticket from a conductor now costs $3, a 50 percent hike from the former $2 fee (although here will be no additional charge for passengers boarding at stations that don't have a ticket-seller).

The whole exercise is being done to encourage riders to use the 10-ride tickets, monthly passes and to buy the tickets at stations or online, using credit cards, at Metra's newly-revised Web site .

The increases are expected to bring in an additional $6 million a year. Of course, customers who pay for multiple rides before actually using (or maybe never using) them puts even more cash into Metra's hands. Kind of like the tollway's I-Pass for rail riders.

Motorists using East Indian Trail Road in Aurora might want to reconsider using that street for the next week or so as water main and sewer construction is expected to disrupt traffic between Church Road and Farnsworth Avenue.

Construciton work started today with intermittent periods of one-lane traffic, which is expected to creat long delays. Work might take more than a week if the weather doesn't cooperate.
Officials say that commuters might want to consider using Church to either Reckinger or Butterfield roads, to Farnsworth Avenue.

No matter what, though, motorists going through the area should be on the lookout for work crews and flaggers.

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This page is an archive of entries from March 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

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