Lake County Motorist

Suburban Chicagoland commuter and motorist weblog

Why don’t you take the train?

Hunting for parking at a Metra rail station and boarding the ever-more-crowded trains can make one feel that everyone is taking Metra these days.

But a look at the vehicle-clogged roads seems to tell otherwise. Indeed, several of my associates have increased their rail ridership recently, but others have not.

Metra’s commercials encourage “If Metra’s right for you,” perhaps you should consider the train for your next commute. Certainly many commuters take Metra up on their offer, with many more hopping aboard as gas prices have climbed. Metra even added capacity on key lines to keep up with demand.

So, do you take the train or bus? And if not, why not?

I take Metra whenever I can. For me, riding the train is less stressful than driving. The train is reliable, and I’m able to work during my commute. With gas at $3.80 a gallon even in the suburbs, Metra becomes a more attractive commuting option every day.

But sometimes, I drive to work instead of taking the train. This can continue for days at a time. If I’m not on the train, it could be for one of the following reasons/excuses:

  • I elected to grab another twenty winks, thereby delaying my exit and I thus missed the train.
  • I was unable to find parking at the station (see Excuse #1).
  • I had to work later than the last shuttle bus would’ve been able to get me to the station, and I didn’t want to pay for a taxi or beg someone for a ride.
  • I have errands to run after work, including car repair or maintenance appointments.

Many of my motoring associates would love to take Metra to work, but matters of convenience or lack thereof stand in the way. According to USA Today, fewer than 20% of U.S. households have easy access to mass transit.

A few reasons cited by those who are not on board:

  • Train schedule does not work with their work schedule, due to arrival/departure times or train frequency.
  • Total commute time would be longer than with driving (cited for those who do not live or work near Metra stations).
  • Can’t get from home to train due to distance and lack of a vehicle.
  • Can’t get from the train station to the workplace, again due to distance and lack of connecting transportation.
  • Insufficient time to pick up children from daycare without incurring tardiness fees.
  • The person prefers the autonomy of driving their own car.
  • Claustrophobia
  • Train is too crowded

Any others? Has your use of mass transit changed due to gas prices, environmental concerns, a broken-down car or any other reason?

Also see:

Why people in Portland, ME didn’t take the bus.

Why people on the City-Data forums don’t take mass transit.

On Choosing Between Mass Transit and Car.

You may have heard: Half of Chicago area employees say they would use mass transit if their employers subsidize it, as is suggested by the Commuter Act.

Pace transit sees highest usage in 50 years [PDF] ( feature article in the agency’s Rider Report newsletter)

Baltimore residents get on board.

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Filed under: Mass Transit, ,

2 Responses - Comments are closed.

  1. Cal Denison says:

    I recently changed jobs and now work at Lake Cook and Rt. 41. I live within a mile of the Metra / Forest Glen stop on the Chicago/Fox Lake line. So taking the train would work out great.

    However, I can’t figure out the last two miles–to and from Rt 41 to the Metra station on Lake Cook Rd. Looks like there used to be a shuttle bug that got shut down in one of the funding cuts.

    Does anyone know how to make this last leg short of calling a cab?

    Thanks

  2. kilax says:

    Well, you know I take the train everyday and love it! The only thing that keeps me from taking it is when I have to drive to a jobsite in the suburbs. And whoa… those are long days. The trek from the city to Round Lake is a LONG one…

    I think it would be great if more people could take Metra, but a lot probably don’t want to if the stop is not near their house or office, especially in the winter!

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