On Sunday I'm planning to ride with a number of people to 3 Floyds brewery in Munster. The plan is to return on the Metra Electric from Flossmoor to downtown. However, I see that they only allow 8 bikes per train. Has anyone taken a bike on the Metra Electric on the weekend? How many other bikes were on the train? Was the limit strictly enforced? We will have close to 8 people, so I'm concerned that if other folks are bringing their bikes too, we won't be able to get everyone back on the same train. Thanks!
I did the exact trip a year ago on a weekend night. I found the conductors to be okay with a bunch of us getting on the train with bikes (there were at least six of us in a group), though they were strict about making sure we used a bungee cord to connect the bikes and secure them on the train, so I would make sure to bring some bungees to use for that purpose.
I seem to remember one or two other cyclists waiting at the Flossmoor station, which, combined with us, would have either been around exactly 8 and maybe even one or two more than that. It did not seem to me that they were enforcing a strict headcount, and they actually allowed our group to all be in one car on the train rather than spreading out.
With everything related to Metra though (and even CTA really), I'm afraid it often depends on the attitude of the person you run into. The conductor in our car was actually pretty interested in our ride down and talked to us for part of the trip, but I've heard some stories of conductors being much less friendly/understanding.
It's a great ride, though, and I think worth putting up with any potential aggravation.
The worst luck I've had with conductors has been on the Metra Electric. Like ad said, it depends on the conductor, so its a bit of a crapshoot. However, the trains run pretty frequently so if you get kicked you can have a drink until the next one. Be aware there are no bathrooms on the Metra Electric.
So much depends on getting a good conductor, but a good, cooperative attitude will get you a long way with any conductor if you find yourself in a situation that is on the margins of what they officially allow.
I think ME runs every hour which is better frequency than the other lines. Some of the new cars actually do have bathrooms.
I've taken my bike on the Electric line starting from Flossmoor about 15-20 times, usually on weekends, and my experience has been similar. I've always gotten on with my bike, including once when officially there wasn't room for one more bike. At first they weren't going to let me on, but the conductor opened up an unused car to make room for me and my bike. As others have said, it depends on the conductor. I do find that the the number of bikes can quickly reach the allowed limit, but by getting on at Flossmoor, there aren't a whole lot of stops before that, so obviously the chances are better.