Commuter Rail Analysis – Feb 18, 2005

The 55-56-57 Metra Electric station was used. This is the last stop before downtown for express trains. Capacity was estimated by counting the number of cars, and multiplying by estimated capacity per car of 156. Survey was done Friday morning, February 18th, 2005, from approximately 8:30-9:00. (An initial train shortly after 8:30 was not counted, nor was a south shore train that arrived in between the metra electric trains.) To estimate the number of passengers in each train, the number of occupied seats was counted in one car. This was used to estimate how full the train was. This figure was multiplied by the capacity to arrive at the total figure.

TimeTrain cars %full Passengers capacity
8:38 Blue Island / Kensignton Express 4 50% 312 624
8:41 South Chicago local 4 65% 406 624
8:46 mainline express 6 85% 796 936

The mainline had the greatest capacity. This is not surprising – it has more frequent service than the other two branches, and has little competition. The Blue Island and Kensington branches of the Metra Electric have parallel CTA bus routes. Even when a transfer is required the fare is (in most cases) cheaper than the Metra fare. Furthermore, service is rather infrequent on these branches. The South Chicago branch has the most direct competition with CTA. The 26 and 6 express buses both parallel this route. The train does have a similar fare (even cheaper for regular commuters). However, the bus has much more frequent service. And the bus has additional stops that the trains do not have. (However, the train is faster.)