Metra adding service on three lines as some riders return

Sarah Freishtat, Chicago Tribune
·2 min read

Metra is adding trains next week to its BNSF, Milwaukee District North and North Central Service lines as ridership ticks up.

Metra, which largely serves commuters, cut weekday service in half at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, followed by further cuts on its three least busy lines. Since then, it has restored some service.

Beginning Monday, Metra will add four trains to the BNSF line that runs between Chicago’s Union Station and Aurora: two morning inbound trains, one morning outbound train and one afternoon outbound train.

On the Milwaukee District North line, four trains will also be added, one inbound and one outbound each in the morning and evening. The North Central Service to Antioch will add a morning inbound train and an evening outbound train.

Schedules for the three lines and the Milwaukee District West line to Elgin, which also will see some changes, can be viewed at metrarail.com.

The additions will bring service on the BNSF line to 47 trains each weekday, compared with 97 before the pandemic. The Milwaukee District North line will have 34 weekday trains, compared with 63, and the North Central Service will have six weekday trains, compared with 20, Metra spokesman Michael Gillis said.

Metra’s eight other lines are operating at between 33% and 79% of their pre-pandemic schedules, he said.

Metra ridership in the first week of March was down 90% from the same week in 2020,according to the Regional Transportation Authority, which oversees funding and planning for Metra, CTA and PACE.

But the transit agencies have seen more riders in recent weeks. At the beginning of February, Metra provided about 20,000 passenger trips per day, Gillis said. In the last week of March, daily trips were up to an average of 27,000.

sfreishtat@chicagotribune.com