Metra 2015-09-01 071
Local News

Flossmoor residents’ objections affect Metra schedule changes

Flossmoor residents spoke and the train schedule changed.

Metra announced a tentative new schedule in February, asking for feedback from riders. An online survey was filled out by 534 Flossmoor residents. No other town completed more than 184 surveys.

A public meeting was also held in March in Flossmoor where citizens could voice concerns to Metra officials.

“This is the way it’s supposed to work,” said Tom Dobrez, president of the community action group Flossmoor’s Future. “They put together a plan and said, ‘Here’s a proposal.’ People are able to review it and see what kind of impact it might have on their lives. The community responds and Metra said, ‘Oh, you’re right.’” 

The changes were necessary because of a new safety measure being installed called positive train control. Its use requires more time for trains to turn around at each end of the route.

“I do feel like Metra heard the majority of concerns and addressed them,” Homewood resident Mary Jane Maharry said. “I’m appreciative of Flossmoor’s predicament in not having as many stops. The South Suburbs need all the help that we can get.” 

Maharry said her family uses the train for work and school every day. 

The original schedule changes included the elimination of stops between Flossmoor and 59th Street and the reduction in 59th Street station stops from 14 to three. 

The final schedule includes 11 stops at 59th Street and nine combined at the three stations in the Hyde Park neighborhood. They will alternate between trains with the 59th Street stop. 

The first proposal had seven stops at those three stations — 51st/53rd Streets, 55th/56th/57th Streets and 59th Street. 

“We feel that our residents and Flossmoor commuters’ voices were heard and we are very appreciative of Metra’s efforts to accommodate our community’s commuting patterns,” Flossmoor Village Manager Bridget Wachtel said. 

University of Chicago students and employees, including many living in Flossmoor, use the 59th Street stop daily. The village markets that access to the school and hospital system to potential residents. 

“Flossmoor has a huge number of Hyde Park riders, lots of university and hospital-related people.  And these people choose Flossmoor because of the character of the town, the housing stock, the schools and the walkability to the train,” said real estate agent and Flossmoor resident Vicki Stevenson. “Having to get to the Homewood station, either by transfer or by driving, took away an important convenience factor.” 

Under the old schedule, express trains started and ended in Flossmoor but it will no longer be the “first on” station, though. Homewood was chosen, according to a Metra release, because of a nearby crossover, its geographic location and rider analysis. 

“We have enjoyed being the start of a service zone, which ensures our commuters find seats on the train. It’s unfortunate that Flossmoor couldn’t retain that spot in the schedule redesign but it was more important for us to share our concerns about the loss of the Hyde Park stops,” Wachtel said.

Residents are generally content with the adaptations, Dobrez said.

“It’s not what it used to be, but I think overall the village should be very proud of what they did,” Dobrez said. “We saw the importance of this. The impact of this will be felt for the next couple of decades. I don’t see Metra changing it’s schedule any time soon, again.” 

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