Rail Service for Huntley Back on the Tracks

The Chicago Tribune reports that passenger service to and from Chicago has some movement.

The article says that the carrier–Metra or Amtrak–has not yet been decided.

Amtrak Route from Elgin to Rockford running through Huntley, Union and Marengo in McHenry County.

If Metra, presumably Boone and Winnebago County residents would have to agree to pay the same one percent sales tax as all the other counties in the Regional Transportation Authority.

Somehow, I doubt voters would approve such a referendum, so maybe Democrats in Springfield will pass legislation exempting such a tax.

That, of course, would result in residents of Cook, DuPage, Lake, Kane, Will and McHenry County subsidizing Boone and Winnebago Counties.


Rail Service for Huntley Back on the Tracks — 21 Comments

  1. Comical in the new normal of pandemics. End all of it?

    As the pandemic persists and people stay home in droves, Metra is falling further behind its revenue schedule.

    The Chicago area’s commuter rail system upped its projected two-year budget deficit to $682.5 million at a virtual monthly board Wednesday, and warned that it will have to start cutting costs more aggressively without additional federal aid like the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act passed in March.

    “CARES funds won’t last forever,” Thomas Farmer, Metra’s chief financial officer, said during the meeting. “We must adjust costs if ridership doesn’t return soon.”

    Metra, which operates 11 rail lines across six counties, has seen ridership plunge to about 10% of its pre-COVID-19 level, as remote working and school remain the norm for many commuters.

    Train cars are still “largely empty” despite cutting daily service by more than half, Farmer said.

    Metra’s annual operating budget is funded equally by ridership fares and a regional sales tax.

    It is getting about $480 million in federal CARES Act funding, leaving a projected $200 million revenue gap through the end of 2021.


  2. Hey wait, a new tax that JB and the democrats can pass, to bail it out and keep those jobs…

  3. Service cuts have reduced operating expenses by about $7 million a month.

    While personnel costs represent about two-thirds of Metra’s operating expenses, it has yet to lay off or furlough any of its 2,300 employees, even as service has been reduced.

    “We have no plans to make any furloughs or layoffs at this time,” Metra spokesman Michael Gillis said Wednesday.

    Of course not…

  4. Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will Counties’ residents aren’t interested in subsidizing Boone and Winnebago Counties. 😐

    Metra has a tough time with current routes. 😐

    Currently, Greyhound serves Chicago to Rockford commuters. 😐

    One Metra Line serves Kenosha, WI somewhat. Beyond that one rides Wisconsin Coach Lines to Racine and Milwaukee, WI. Metra supposedly wanted to serve those areas, but Wisconsin said “No!”. ☹️

  5. The state senator is the only one advocating a Rockford to Chicago commuter rail service. 😐😐

  6. More $$$$ down the toilet.

    Will Metra name the line or locomotive after Jussie Smollett too?

  7. Where is the proof of the need for this?

    People without a car, suv or pickup who need to transit between Rockford and Chicago can take a bus.

  8. Besides Greyhound, there’s Burlington Trailways and Coach USA, between Rockford and Chicago. 😐

  9. As Lori Lightfoot will say we must protect our most vulnerable.

    Great job with another week of record breaking shooting and murders.

  10. The Tribune article says that Sen. Steve Stadelman, D-Rockford, secured $275 million in funding for the rail project as part of the Rebuild Illinois construction program.

    Amortize that expense over 30 years and the result is an annual cost of about $14 million.

    The estimated annual operating budget is more than $10 million, so the total annual cost will exceed $24 million.

    The Van Galder Bus Company offers service from Rockford to the Loop for $22.50.

    Therefore, to cover the annual cost at a price per trip competitive with the service offered by the Van Galder Bus Company, the new Amtrak line will have to sell more than one million tickets a year.

    Rockford only has a population of 150,000.

    It doesn’t require a high-priced study to conclude that it’s highly unlikely there is an unmet demand of 1 million rides a year from a city of 150,000 when Van Galder offers 13 trips a day from Rockford to the Loop and 19 from Rockford to O’Hare.

    Or, to put it more bluntly, the proposed service is duplicative and will run at a tremendous loss subsidized heavily by the taxpayers.

  11. Steve, excellent research. 😁

    Oops, Coach USA is Van Galder.😐🤔

  12. This route is part of a plan to extend Amtrak service all the way to Dubuque, Iowa.

    A 2010 study prepared for the Illinois Department of Transportation estimated the whole route is likely to carry 55,000 passengers per year.

    Let’s make the very generous assumption that two-thirds of those passengers – 37,000 – will be going to and from Rockford.

    If the total annual cost is $24 million, and 37,000 users contribute less than $1 million at $22 per ticket (the price to take the bus) then the subsidy per ticket will be more than $650 each.

  13. Think of the union votes.

    And union jobs.

    Illinois thinking baby, keep them voting to keep the gravy flowing

  14. There’s no need to waste money on a commuter service that “nobody would ride. 😁☹️🔔

  15. Why not extend the line to Churchill, Manitoba, and dump all the Section 8 freeloaders into Hudson Bay?

  16. According to some Streetsblog Chicago articles, service between Rockford and Chicago is currently halted or suspended, between the 3 bus companies. 😐

  17. There is only a single track on the route through Huntley, Union and Marengo.

  18. Quite honestly why would anybody in Rockford want to go to Chicago and vice versa.

    They are like two different worlds.

    The only thing that they have in common is the shooting of their own residents.

    Might as well just stay home and get shot at or do the shooting.

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