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.

Filed under: Mass Transit, ,

Road Week Ahead: June 9 – June 13

Here’s what’s on tap for Lake County commuters this week.

Monday’s temporary lane closures on the North Tri-State Tollway:

  • One lane will be closed in each direction between Route 173 and Stearns School Road from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • One southbound lane will be closed between Route 137 and Stearns School Road overnight. The lane will reopen by 5 a.m. Tuesday.

Stay up-to-date with the Lake County DOT roadwork update report and Illinois DOT construction update report.

Interstate 94 weather report: It’s storming heavily as I write this, and more storms are on the way Monday. We’ll dry out Tuesday through Thursday, with more storms on Friday.

Metra parking woes in Round Lake will get worse before they get better, as up to one-third of existing spaces will be taken out of commission during parking lot construction and expansion. Local riders may wish to start making plans now for alternate stations or ever-earlier departures.

Got a road tip? Click here to send it (opens in a new window).

Filed under: Commuting, ,

Road Weekend Ahead: Memorial Day

Welcome to a special edition of Road WeekEND Ahead for the Memorial Day weekend!

With $4-a-gallon gas spreading like crabgrass, holiday drivers will be extra-happy to avoid fuel-burning traffic delays. The transit agencies are looking out for you.

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Filed under: Places, , , , , , ,

Road Week Ahead: May 19 – May 23

Here’s what’s on tap for Lake County commuters this week: New lane configurations on the northernmost portion of the Tri-State Tollway, more capacity on Metra, and the countdown begins to the unofficial start of summer: Memorial Day.

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Filed under: Commuting, , ,

Road Week Ahead: May 12 – May 16

Here’s what’s on tap for Lake County commuters this week: Drivers’ woes continue, but Metra hears your cries for increased capacity.

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Filed under: Commuting, ,

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