Metra 2015-09-01 071
Local News

Flossmoor gov’t, residents against proposed Metra schedule

Metra solicited feedback about its proposed schedule changes to the Electric Line District, and Flossmoor residents have voiced their opposition. (Chronicle file photo)

Officials and residents in Flossmoor are hoping their feedback moves Metra to reconsider some of the potential changes to the electric line schedule announced earlier this month.

Metra solicited feedback about its proposed schedule changes to the Electric Line District, and Flossmoor residents have voiced their opposition. (Chronicle file photo)

Changes would begin later this spring as a result of the implementation of a system called positive train control, a safety measure required to be in place by the end of 2020 by federal law. PTC can help stop a train if the engineer doesn’t obey a signal or exceeds the speed limit. 

Flossmoor trustees passed out flyers and talked to residents at the village’s station this week. Residents specifically oppose the elimination of stops between Flossmoor and 59th Street and the reduction in 59th Street station stops from 14 to three.

Students and employees of the University of Chicago use the 59th Street station daily. The next closest stops are three and four blocks away.

“This is a direct impact to Flossmoor but I think there’s also a regional concern here,” Flossmoor Village Manager Bridget Wachtel said. “It’s directly impacting the University of Chicago and they’re a major economic engine for the south side and the South Suburbs. We have a large population of residents who either work for the university or the hospital. It’s become part of our identity as a community and we certainly wouldn’t want to lose that.”

Tom Dobrez, president of the community action group Flossmoor’s Future, said proposed reductions in service to Hyde Park neighborhood stops would affect school-aged kids going to the University of Chicago’s Laboratory Schools and nearby Mount Carmel High School. 

“There are dozens, if not hundreds, of people who work in Hyde Park and live in Flossmoor. The rush hour trains that pick up in Hyde Park and drop off in Flossmoor are going to be cut back significantly,” Dobrez said. “These trains, there’s times that you can’t get a seat on them. So, I don’t even know the logic on Metra’s part.”

The changes to stops at 59th Street will also affect some Homewood residents. Mary Jane Maharry, who works as a marketing and public relations consultant for the village, said the change will affect how her children get to school.

“My two kids (along with about two dozen other South Suburb kids) ride the Metra to school every day,” she said. “The elimination of the stop at 59th Street dramatically changes their commute to school in the morning. We are all asking Metra to add back that stop at 59th in the morning so our kids can get to school on time and not have to take a train an hour earlier.”

The elimination of the Flossmoor station’s “first on” status for express trains to downtown Chicago was also a concern for Dobrez. Flossmoor’s Future will be handing out literature at the Flossmoor station on Thursday morning.

Dobrez said more information about the schedule changes can be found at the organization’s website,

Metra is asking for feedback through an online survey before March 1. 

Wachtel said Metra met with the South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association Monday. She said it had received over 1,300 survey responses at that point and the cuts to service at the 59th Street station could be reviewed.

The schedule changes are necessary because the PTC system needs to be initialized by each new crew in a process Metra says takes about six minutes. 

Trains are turned around at Millennium Station and sent back to the suburbs during the morning and evening rush hours — a process Metra calls “flipping.” It requires the engineer to move to the other end of the train, perform a brake test and conduct a job briefing. 

The added time spent initializing PTC means flips will take longer than 10 minutes. The current schedule has 51 trains scheduled to flip in less than 10 minutes, including 23 set to flip in less than six minutes. 

Homewood government isn’t taking a stance on the issue, Village Manager Jim Marino said.

“We understand that Metra needs to alter its schedule to be in compliance with the federally mandated PTC requirements and this will impact some commuters,” Marino said in an email to the H-F Chronicle. “Commuters should complete Metra’s survey to voice their opinion on the proposed schedule change.”

Wachtel also encouraged residents to fill out the survey, even if they aren’t commuters.

“It’s still an amenity to this community. Having that train access as a resident of Homewood and Flossmoor is important,” Wachtel said.

Metra is asking residents to fill out a survey before March 1 about the proposed changes at To view the proposed schedule changes, go to

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