Metra is increased weekday service levels on all of its lines effective July 12, bringing the service levels in the western suburbs closer to the pre-pandemic normal.
According to a Metra press release, the transit agency wants to step away from the more rush-hour oriented pre-pandemic schedules and offer more off-peak options, while also increasing service as more companies welcome employees back for in-person work and vaccinations become more widespread.
The Burlington Northern-Santa Fe Railroad line, which has one station in Riverside and three in Brookfield, will see the biggest increase of Metra’s three lines that serve suburbs west of Chicago, though Brookfield’s non-downtown stations will see their off-peak and evening service reduced.
Metra Executive Director Jim Derwinski stated the transit agency expects the ridership to rebound in the coming months.
“These new schedules are intended to help our customers transition back to a regular work commute, providing them with more choices and flexibility,” he said. “We expect ridership to continue to increase as the summer progresses and will continue to monitor conditions and make schedule adjustments that are responsive to our customers’ needs.”
The BNSF line has Metra one stop in the village of Riverside, the downtown station at 90 Bloomingbank Road, and three stations in Brookfield – the downtown station at 858 Burlington Ave., the Zoo Stop at Hollywood Avenue and the Congress Park station at Dubois Boulevard.
Out of all west suburban Metra lines, BNSF lines will see the largest expansion of service, going from 24 inbound trains and 23 outbound ones to 46 inbound trains and 48 outbound ones. The changes mostly have to do with the rush hour express services and off-peak trains.
For rush hour express trains, the new schedule creates more consistent service frequency, so that most inbound morning express trains and outbound afternoon express trains stop at the Riverside and Brookfield stations around once every half hour, while doubling the number of rush hour trains serving those stations.
It also increased the number of off-peak and evening trains in both directions, so that they run once an hour instead of once every two hours, while also adding late evening trains so that the line runs longer in both directions.
But while the rush hour changes benefit all stations equally, the changes reduce off-peak and evening service to Hollywood and Congress Park stations in Brookfield. None of the new off-peak trains stop at those stations. And while under the previous schedule some evening trains served them, all evening trains under the new schedule bypass them.
For the most up-to-date information on Metra schedules, visit metrarail.com/maps-schedules/train-lines/BNSF.