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, ,

Commuter News Roundup

Woman pays off 1976 parking ticket. The fine, which was $1 when the ticket was issued, increased to $5 after 72 hours, but didn’t compound itself after that. Hmm, I wonder what the current fine would be for each dollar in unpaid parking fines incurred in Chicago in 1976?

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Filed under: Mass Transit, , , , ,

Road Week Ahead – April 28 – May 2

Here’s what’s on tap for Lake County commuters this week: Railroad crossing improvements in Buffalo Grove, rain’s on the way, and Gurnee residents get their say.

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Filed under: Road Conditions, , , , ,

Track that route!

Drivers do it, thanks to traffic reports delivered by radio, text message, GPS device and desktop. Airlines do it for those anticipating a passenger. Tracking your transit and estimating arrival time is part of getting around.

Resources are growing to allow mass transit users to do the same.

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Filed under: Mass Transit, , , , , , ,

Transportation is key in 2008 Strategic Plan

As previously noted, the Lake County Community Forums begin this week. The 2008 Strategic Plan, available on the county’s website, addresses the four strategic initiatives for near-future focus: transportation, drinking water, criminal justice and economic development. The Plan will likely provide inspiration for forum discussions.

Keeping with this blog’s commuter and motorist bent, here’s a recap of the transportation plan “as I read it”.

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Filed under: Urban Planning, , , , ,

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