CHICAGO — Metra is debuting new options for reverse commuters headed out of Chicago during the busy morning rush.
As part of a two-year pilot program, Metra teamed up with businesses and governments to raise nearly $1.5 million needed to fund four new trains to Lake County and the north suburbs.
"The pharmaceutical companies up in the Lake Forest area actually came to Metra last spring and said, 'we have this great need to bring a lot of these Millennials and young folks that are in that type of work environment up to Lake Forest,'" Metra CEO Jim Derwinski said. "They are the ones who asked for this, so we believe there is a great need for this."
Reverse commuter Katie Casey said she prefers taking the train to Lake Forest, and adding new options will save her time.
"For my commute, honestly it's a game changer; it's going to save me between an hour and two hours a week," Casey said.
Starting Monday, there will be an extra early morning train and evening train between Union Station and Lake Forest on Metra's Milwaukee District North line.
"I actually like the fact that AbVie pulled their resources together and really put in work life balance, so I can actually have the life that I love in the city and have the job that I have here in Lake County," said another commuter, Sharmin Moten.
The hope is this new service will help relieve congestion on the roadways as well.
"That corridor going up to Lake County right now is so congested, this will help both in the morning and in the evening," Derwinski said.
If ridership on the extra reverse commute train service is strong, Metra and its partners will fund a crossover track system that could make the service permanent.
"The reverse commute has always been a big deal for Lake County. For every four people that go downtown in the morning, we have three coming in the other way," said Kevin Considine, CEO of Lake County Partners.