Metra making more changes to weekend, weekday service

Chronicle Media

Metra is making changes to its service because of extremely low ridership with more people working from home or not working all due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Chronicle Media photo)

The COVID-19 pandemic is forcing Metra to change not only weekday service but also weekend schedules.

Effective Saturday, May 9, most Metra lines operating weekend service — except the Metra Electric — will temporarily change to Sunday schedules for both Saturday and Sunday service.

The Metra Electric Line will continue to operate Saturday schedules on Saturdays and Sunday schedules on Sunday.

Metra’s Sunday schedules typically run train service every two hours. Schedules for each line, including Sunday schedules, can be accessed here.

Saturday service on the SouthWest Service Line to Manhattan will be suspended until further notice. Customers needing to travel in that region may be able to use the Rock Island Line as an alternative.

On April 29, Metra announced service on the Heritage Corridor and North Central lines will be temporarily reduced on weekdays to one inbound trip in the morning and one outbound trip in the evening.

On the SouthWest Service, there temporarily will be two inbound trips in the morning and two outbound trips in the evening. The new schedules can be viewed here: Heritage Corridor    SouthWest Service    North Central Service

The changes are being made in response to extremely low ridership due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the statewide stay-at-home order, according a statement on Metra’s website.

“We hope our customers understand why we are making these schedule reductions,” said Metra CEO/Executive Director Jim Derwinski. “We are trying to find the balance between providing service for essential workers while stemming the huge losses we are seeing in fare revenue and sales taxes, our two major sources of operating funding. We are being forced to make some tough decisions.”

All trains will have enough cars for customers to be able to practice social distancing, and Metra will be prepared to add trains when ridership begins to return to normal.

During its April Board meeting, Metra outlined a preliminary estimate that it will lose about $535.5 million in fares and sales tax revenue in 2020 and 2021 due to this crisis. There are many assumptions built in to that estimate that are certain to change. Metra is expecting about $480 million in federal relief aid.