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Metra's Hyde Park Plan Leaves Too Many Behind

Chicago's Metra has the resources to create frequent transit for a large swath of the South Side. Instead, their plan supports only the most fortunate along that train line.
July 23, 2017, 11am PDT | Casey Brazeal | @northandclark
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Chicago Commuter Rail

Metra's plan for service changes represents a missed opportunity, Sandy Johnston argues in an OP-ED for South Side Weekly. "The current plan would enhance service to Hyde Park—but at the expense of cutting it to neighborhoods with higher levels of poverty, disinvestment, and disadvantage, such as South Chicago, West Pullman, and Morgan Park," Johnston writes.

Adding service makes sense because the South Side line is not built with the large distance between stops that other Metra trains have. These stops mean the line already has the potential to be a more traditional transit line, Johnson argues. "Stop spacing is extremely short, around half a mile in most places within Chicago proper. The line sports high-level platforms and electrification, rapid-transit-quality features that few commuter rail lines in the U.S. boast."

All this adds up to a big opportunity for a part of the city that could use the investment, and in fact, did have this kind of service in more prosperous years. "Chicago has advantages that none of those systems can boast: existing assets such as a high-capacity four-track right of way, electrification, high platforms that allow for level boarding, and new (though not modernly-designed, and poorly suited to rapid transit service) trains," Johnston argues.

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Published on Sunday, July 9, 2017 in South Side Weekly
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