According to their Bikes on Trains webpage, Metra's Bicycle Policy 2011 is calling for a 6th consecutive year in reducing of black out dates related to city festivals by eliminating the Blues Fest weekend (see this Chainlink post from Feb-2010 with further background info).
Is this good news the work of Active Transportation Alliance or other lobbying, or are the Metra administrators becoming more bike-friendly all on their own? Whatever the case, I applaud the move.
Wasn't Blues Fest itself eliminated?
Edit: Nope, I was mistaken. It's the lesser fests that are being incorporated into the Taste. Hooray for bikes!
This is great news! We met each year with Metra and make this part of our ask (as Bicycle Poet noted).
Our ultimate goal is to continue to reduce black outs, add more bike service during rush hour (e.g. first/second train inbound on select or even all lines) and in the long-term secure more service for passengers with bikes. Here's an article with more details.
Due to the change in leadership, we haven't met with top leaders recently but have made these asks to other Metra contacts we work with.
And, to answer the question that always comes up: how about bike cars?
We would certainly love this but we've learned that a big challenge is the engines Metra currently use can only handle the number of train cars that are already there. In order to add a bike car, they would have to take away a passenger car and have costly retrofitting done to the cars to make them bike-friendly.
From our current understanding, Metra isn't in a place right now to do this financially or from a customer service perspective but that doesn't mean we won't stop asking and pushing for it and working with them to secure money (in the future) to potentially pilot this.
This is a long-term goal and something we will continue to work towards. For now, we want to continue reducing blackouts and increase service for bikes by working towards a pilot of first/second trains inbound allowing bikes.
And to be realistic, long-term in this case means 10-15 years. We want to keep expectations real as this would be a costly and very involved project.
And to answer another possible question up front, we are also working on bikes and the South Shore Line...another long-term campaign. Here's a Chainlink discussion with more details.
We will keep you all posted after we meet with Metra's new leadership.
Happy bikes on Metra, Chainlink friends!
Ethan Spotts, Marketing & Communication Director, Active Trans
We're happy to do it, Jennifer...we didn't realize the complexities until we asked a few years ago.
Ethan, with Active Trans
All days during Taste of Chicago (June 24 - July 4)
Thank you for all the hard work. I have one question.
Does this mean that reverse commuters will be unable to use metra the week of Jun 27 - July 1?
I'm not a reverse commuter but I know many people who are and was looking for a clarification.
Liz, unfortunately, yes. No bikes are allowed on Metra trains (reverse or regular) during any blackout period.
For Taste of Chicago, that does mean the whole week.
The other two are primarily weekend blackouts but again, no bikes are allowed, reverse or otherwise.
The good news is that these dates are a huge reduction from the original pilot back in 2004.
Ethan, with Active Trans