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Home / News & Reviews / News Wire / Two suburban communities hire lobbying firm in effort to get Metra service NEWSWIRE

Two suburban communities hire lobbying firm in effort to get Metra service NEWSWIRE

By | November 19, 2018

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A Metra BNSF train approaches the Naperville station on Sept. 15, 2018. Two communities have hired a lobbying firm as part of an effort to have the BNSF line extended into Kendall County, Ill.
TRAINS: David Lassen

OSWEGO, Ill. — Two Chicago suburbs have hired a lobbying firm in an effort to Metra’s BNSF Railway line extended to their communities, the Aurora Beacon-News reports.

The Oswego Village Board and Yorkville City Council both approved agreements for the hiring of the Chicago firm Fletcher, O’Brien, Kasper & Nottage, which will be asked to help secure state funding for an extension of the BNSF line into Kendall County. The service currently ends in Aurora, about 6.5 miles from Oswego and 12 miles from Yorkville.

The two communities will pay a combined $7,000 per month for the one-year contract, effective Dec. 1.

Discussions about extending Metra service into Kendall County have been ongoing for about 20 years. In 2016, the commuter railroad announced it was resuming planning for such service, an effort that was then projected to take 18 to 24 months. [See “Metra to resume planning on BNSF extension,” Trains News Wire, May 20, 2016.]

The effort could be complicated by the fact that Kendall County is the only one of the “collar counties” surrounding Chicago that is not a member of the Regional Transportation Authority, which oversees Metra, the Pace bus system, and the Chicago Transit Authority. Member counties pay a 0.75 percent sales tax to help fund RTA services.

Asking Metra to add services could also be difficult at a time when the commuter railroad is waring that it might have to cut service on existing lines without additional state funding. [See “Metra OKs budgets, renews call for state capital funding,” Trains News Wire, Nov. 12, 2018.]


10 thoughts on “Two suburban communities hire lobbying firm in effort to get Metra service NEWSWIRE

  1. I know that UP North service to Kenosha exists as a legacy to C&NW practices (and lack of space in the Waukegan yard), but to my knowledge, Kenosha County is not part of the RTA.

    And to Mr. Landey’s point about not being in a hurry, very few of the trains to/from Kenosha have much express running, (figure about an hour, 40 minute trip each way; the fastest “express” saves about 15 minutes), however it sure beats having to sit on the Edens/Kennedy or find/pay for parking. That said, as a Kenosha resident, I typically drive to Waukegan (about 20-25 minutes from my house) because of the many more return options.

  2. Re: DeKalb. On our last car trip out west, we saw a poster in downtown DeKalb, advocating Metra service out that far. We only saw the one poster, but to me that’s a no-brainer from a service standpoint. The folks in Cortland and DeKalb (and the rest of the county) will have to chip in for it, and Maple Park probably already is. And UP will want a third track as part of the deal.

    Will I see a done deal for Yorkville, Rockford, or DeKalb in my lifetime? I doubt it–I’m already too close to the proverbial threescore-and-ten.

  3. Todd, Obviously Kenosha County isn’t a member of RTA, as RTA is an Illinois public authority. Is there another form of subsidy? I simply don’t know the answer.

    I have not heard one way or another about Kenosha County or WisDOT subsidizing Metra UP North. WisDOT’s subsidy of local transit doesn’t generate much buzz. It goes on under both Republican and Democrat governors and seems never to come up as an issue. So, maybe or maybe not.

  4. Assume that the proposal is because Kendall County residents want to go all the way to Chicago, and not, to say, only to Aurora, Downers, Hinsdale or LaGrange. It’s going to be a schlepp. The existing one-way haul from Chicago to Aurora varies from 51 minutes, the fastest express, to 88 minutes for the slowest all-stops. To that time, add the walk or the travel at each end of the train ride along with the normal friction of building in time to guarantee making the train. All the more so for the longest-haul Metras which have the fewest options if one misses his train and must take the next one. For the outermost destinations, there is no next train so one must build in a guaranteed padding to meet his planned schedule.

    This is hardly unprecedented. Metra UP lines to McHenry, Kenosha and Crystal Lake, or the NICTD line to Indiana, or the Metra North Central to Antioch, aren’t for people in a hurry.

  5. Given the current on-going issues with the Metra BNSF service, I hope that the planners give careful consideration of the impacts before trying to stuff more trains onto this corridor.

  6. Kevin, I see nothing in the article that says Metra would add trains. In all likelihood, if it were to happen, my guess would be the equipment would start out of Aurora and then run as an equipment move to Oswego to start their trip. Yes, technically more trains (in a sense) between those two points but not necessarily on the entire line.
    No different than what we had when our yard was ar West Chicago before everything moved to Elburn. Even with that the number of trains did not increase. Some trains just go out the east end as equipment moves and then start their runs out of Geneva or W. Chicago during the morning rush.

  7. Heck, lets try DeKalb service from Elburn, only 12-13 miles, Rockford? What happened to Rockford? A new platform obviously has to be built in Aurora, etc etc etc

  8. To make it worthwhile, those trains would have to go express inbound with a stop at Rt 59 & Naperville, then express to CUS.

  9. Slippery slope if they extend the service without that specific county paying it’s fair share. If they bend the rules there then other counties will want the same treatment and before you know it………METRA is overextended and underfinanced.

  10. Getting a collar county like Kendall added to RTA is a net loss because its overall population density doesn’t support the level of services Metra and PACE (bus) are required to provide when in the “system”. So if they (RTA) can’t support their current service levels with the higher densities they operate within, why would one think adding another weaker county will make it better?

    I believe Oswego, Yorkville and Montgomery want service of some kind, but if one was to show them what it would actually cost for them to participate, I think second and third thoughts would be in order and they would walk.

    On the flip side, for people who say no one would commute on such a service so far away, this is not true.

    I know people in Beecher IL who drive to University Park to catch the Metra Electric.

    Before Metra extended the UP West service, there were many people in Wasco, LaFox and Elburn driving to Geneva to catch the early trains. For awhile people west of Randall Road in St Charles were petitioning to have Metra send a “St Charles Express” up the CGW out of the West Chicago yard due to terrible overcrowding at Geneva. UP pulled the rail back to Kirk Road toot sweet and idea died right after.

    As for DeKalb and Rockford, these should be handled as Amtrak Illinois efforts.

    The Rockford Amtrak deal was goofed from day one because CN played hardball (thanks to its then CEO EHH) and Illinois decided to move it over to the UP Rockford Sub. UP was more than happy to get more business into that sub as it gets little traffic past the Chrysler plant in Belvidere. Illinois is broke, so you won’t see anymore action for awhile.

    I can;t see the DeKalb deal at all. Other than NIU, there really isn’t anything worth coming and going to. NIU has extensive graduate campuses in the western burbs so people don’t have to commute west. It’s a money loser.

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