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South Side Residents Want Metra Electric Line To Run Like The 'L': Reports

By Joe Ward | January 17, 2016 11:51am | Updated on January 18, 2016 8:05am
 A Metra Electric line
A Metra Electric line
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Flickr Creative Commons/Strannik45

CHICAGO — A coalition of South Side advocacy groups is calling on transportation agencies and officials to increase the frequency of trains running on Metra's Electric line, which they called a "hugely underutilized asset."

Fourteen community groups penned a letter to the editor of the Chicago Maroon, the University of Chicago's student newspaper, to ask Metra, Pace and the Chicago Transit Authority to operate the Electric line like the 'L' trains, according to the letter.

Streetsblog Chicago first reported the story.

Metra's Electric line serves the South and Southeast sides of the city, offering some of the only public transportation options for communities like Pullman and South Shore.

It is also built like an 'L' train, the groups said, in that it runs on electricity and is separate from the freight train network. Thus the line is well suited to support increased train frequency, according to the collective, which includes multiple chambers of commerce and community groups.

An increase in train frequency on the line would also transform nearby South Side neighborhoods and the lives of their residents, the group said, making transportation easier to and from South Side institutions like the University of Chicago, the Museum of Science and Industry and the South Shore Cultural Center.

"With more frequent and affordable service, current residents could access jobs across the region, and communities along the route would become more attractive places to live and locate businesses," the group's letter reads.

According to Streetsblog, the electric line used to run at a much more frequent pace. Trains would leave the Randolph Street Station to the 93rd Street Station every 10 to 15 minutes, according to the blog. The line ran every 20 to 30 minutes up until 1981, when service was switched to hourly.

Specifically, the groups have asked transportation and elected officials to work towards:

• Integration of fares and schedules across the agencies using Ventra.

• Increased train frequency on the Metra Electric line to every 10 to 15 minutes.

• Investigating the cost of extending the electric line to O'Hare Airport.

• Seeking extra federal, state and local funds to make the project a reality.

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