By Richard Wronski/ Chicago Transportation Journal
Pace has unveiled a new strategy to improve its DuPage County service, introducing a brand-new route along busy Ogden Ave. and restructuring several routes serving Metra stations. The plan would significantly increase the number of BNSF trains served by these restructured routes and give riders more flexibility, Pace said.
The strategy targets what transportation experts call the “last mile,” the gap between a commuter’s home and his/her mode of public transit. In suburbs like Naperville and Downers Grove, Pace tries to fill that gap with bus service to and from some of Metra’s most-used stations.
Pace’s plan, which the agency said represents a $1 million investment, could go into effect this June. But first, Pace will hold public hearings to discuss the proposed changes on March 29, 30 and 31. The affected communities include Naperville, Lisle, Downers Grove, Woodridge and Lombard.
These communities largely feed Metra’s busiest line, the BNSF, which carries some 64,000 riders each weekday on 94 trains.
Mike Bolton, Pace’s deputy executive director for strategic services, told the Chicago Transportation Journal that the changes came about through an ongoing analysis of ridership.
Using data from the new Ventra fare card and other programs, Pace found it could combine some portions of existing routes in both the morning and evening to get better ridership on the trips and we also meet more trains, Bolton said.
“We found that we could save some vehicles that we could then use for the Ogden route that we have wanted to put into place since the Southwest DuPage study that we did nearly 10 years ago,” he said.
Here are details, according to Pace:
The all-new Route 722 Ogden Avenue will operate approximately every 30 minutes Monday through Saturday between the Naperville Metra Station and Yorktown Center in Lombard. A portion of the new route overlaps the existing routing of Route 714 College of DuPage – Naperville – Wheaton Connector on Ogden Avenue, so Route 714 will be rerouted to provide new service to Diehl Road and Washington Street in Naperville.
Route 722 will also overlap much of the existing Route 829 Lisle – Naperville Office Corridor in the Warrenville Road area, so Route 829 would be combined with the new route. However, Route 722 will be scheduled to meet all trains currently served by Route 829 and the expanded service on Route 722 would meet two additional evening trains not served by Route 829.
In Downers Grove, Pace routes connecting local neighborhoods with the village’s two Metra stations will be adjusted to improve efficiency by combining Route 464 West Downers Grove with Route 821 IL 53/83rd St. – Belmont Metra Station and realigning Route 462 Southwest Downers Grove to have a simplified, shorter routing.
The new, combined route would meet six Metra BNSF Line trains not currently served by the existing service.
In Naperville, Route 684 Naperville-Maplebrook and Route 686 Naperville-Old Farm would be combined into a single route with simplified routing, as the two current routes operate geographically close to one another.
Pace said it analyzed ridership patterns for both routes, and the combined route will serve the areas with the highest demand for ridership to lessen the impact on current customers.
Additionally, some customers can use Route 678 Naperville-Carriage Hill, which operates on Washington Street, as an alternative. The same strategy would be used to combine existing Route 688 Naperville-Huntington and Route 689 Naperville-Hobson Village. Pace says some customers affected by the change can consider using Route 678 as an alternative.
As in Downers Grove, the new, combined routes would serve six additional Metra BNSF Line trains not met by the existing service.
In addition, Bolton addressed an often-asked question: Why does Pace’s existing Ogden Ave. Route 302 end in La Grange and not extend further west through communities like Western Springs, Hinsdale, Downers Grove and Westmont to Naperville? Doing so could connect a lot of potential riders with jobs and shopping, and serve as an alternative to the BNSF.
The reason, he said, is a lack of availability of vehicles and low density along long stretches of Ogden Ave. However, “modifications to Ogden will be ongoing, so stay tuned,” Bolton said.
“We encourage the people who live and work in the area to join us at our public forums and hearings to learn more about the service proposal, ask questions and provide feedback that we can use to shape the final plan,” Kwasneski said.
Detailed information about the proposed service plan is available here.
Based on the public input, Pace said the plans may be adjusted before the Pace board votes gives final approval at its April 13 meeting.
Here is the public hearing schedule:
Tuesday, March 29, 5pm-7pm
Naperville City Hall
400 S. Eagle Street
Wednesday, March 30, 5pm-7pm
Lisle Village Hall
925 Burlington Avenue
Thursday, March 31, 5pm-7pm
Downers Grove Village Hall
801 Burlington Avenue