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Metra offers details and invites input on future rail service

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(The Center Square) – Metra officials are shifting their focus from rush-hour trains to regional service.

Metra Director of Operations Planning and Project Management Aaron Maertins said the shift does not mean an expansion into new territory.

“Right now, when we talk about service, we’re looking at what we can do with our existing infrastructure, existing agreements, existing resources,” Maertins said at a virtual public meeting.

The move from commuter rail to regional rail calls for service throughout the day rather than prioritizing peak morning and evening trains.

Metra Director of Planning and Programming David Kralik said the plan includes more integration with regional transit partners.

“We will be working in coordination with CTA and Pace to identify those locations where there’s demand to go, and where we can’t meet that demand on our own,” Kralik said.

Kralik added that all three agencies are facing a fiscal cliff in 2026.

Officials are inviting public input as they plan for the future.

Metra’s focus on shifting to regional rail includes sporting events, concerts and festivals, Kralik said.

“Lollapalooza has been one of our biggest ridership experiences and ridership days the past several years. We are continuing to work with event promoters and facility owners in order to be able to provide that type of special-event service as much as we can,” Kralik said.

Kralik mentioned potential key destinations like O’Hare, Midway, and Fulton Market on Chicago’s Near West Side. He also said that dense, walkable communities near stations are key to encouraging ridership.

“We’d much rather see something that produces ridership, like mixed-use development on a parking lot,” Kralik said.

A public survey is open until June 19th at Metra.com/SNP.