What’s up — or down — with Metra ridership?

Is Metra alarmed that ridership is quickly declining while employment in downtown Chicago is steadily rising??

Over the past five years, Metra’s ridership has slid 4.4 percent, and 2.2 percent last year alone.

The Electric District, serving the South Side and suburbs, plummeted 14.7 percent, the worst drop of Metra’s 11 lines.

Only one line, the Heritage Corridor, serving the Southwest Suburbs, showed healthy increases, up 3.3 percent during the last five years. But the Heritage Corridor is Metra’s least-used line, with only 2,400 weekday riders.

The Union Pacific West line, serving the western suburbs, showed a 1 percent increase over the last 5 years.

What’s going on here?

The data was presented at Metra’s board of directors meeting Wednesday. Board members expressed concern, but alarm bells didn’t seem to be going off.

Here’s some data, as presented by Lynette Ciavarelli, Metra’s top research person (director of strategic capital planning).

  • Metra provided 78.6 million trips in 2017, down from 83.4 million trips in 2014. (By contrast, Metra provided a record 86.8 million trips in 2008.)
  • Ridership on Metra’s busiest line, the BNSF to Aurora and booming Naperville, dropped 2 percent over five years. The BNSF line provides 63,900 weekday rides.
  • Metra’s peak period ridership levels held steady over the past five years, but off-peak levels fell. (Are these people driving Downtown?)
  • Metra paid an outside consultant to discover that for every fare increase of 10…

Something new for Chicago

Hello, Chicago. This?marks the debut?of a new source of information for the millions of?Chicago area residents and businesses who must get around?the?metropolitan area each day, whether by car, bus or train (and?bike, too). Just a few years ago, there were at least five reporters working for Chicago?newspapers and radio stations whose?“beat” was transportation and who provided this information.?Not any more.

While those beats have disappeared, the news has not. Chicagoans still need to know the best ways to get around. They need to know how their?expressways and tollways are being managed and maintained.?They need to know if their buses and trains are operating?properly and on time. They need to know who runs?the transit agencies, and why those officials?make the decisions they do. They?need to how their tax money and fares?are being spent. They need a watchdog.

The Chicago Transportation Journal’s goal?is to address those needs.?We’ll do so by providing in-depth coverage of issues unavailable elsewhere.?For example, if your bus or train is consistently late, we’ll?tell you why and what’s being done to fix?the problem.?We’ll delve into the decision-making behind the policies and actions taken by?transportation agencies.?We’ll also provide a forum?for transportation users, providers and experts. We welcome other voices.

Transportation is?a multibillion-dollar industry, and Chicago?is the transportation hub of the nation.?All the major freight railroads, Amtrak, and many of the key interstate highways pass through the region. We?have two of the nation’s busiest airports, O’Hare and Midway.?This site?also?hopes to keep?an eye?on?the freight rail, trucking and aviation industries, areas not covered by other media.

The Chicago Transportation Journal?is making?a…