Ridership on Metra’s Union Pacific North line that runs through Evanston declined 3.8 percent last year, more than the system-wide decline of 3.2 percent.

The figures, discussed at Metra’s board meeting Wednesday, show an accelleration of a decline in ridership on the UP-North line that has totalled 6.8 percent over the past five years. System-wide, the five year decline has been 8.7 percent.

Just under 8.7 million passenger trips were recorded on the UP-North line last year. That’s about 11 percent of the traffic on the 11 commmuter rail lines the agency operates in the Chicago region.

Metra officials see falling gas prices and four fare incrases over the past five years as factors in the ridership decline.

The board voted Wednesday to spend $71 million to buy 15 remanufactured locomotives to replace some of the oldest of the 147 locomotives in its fleet in an effort to improve system reliability and reduce pollution emissions.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Other reasons for fewer train rides?

    Maybe the population decline in Illinois for 5 years in a row is having an impact on Metra.

    Also, the workforce today operates differently than in prior years, think telecommuting.

    Uber is easy to use and could be taking some market share.

    Maybe Metra officials need to “Think Outside the Box” and gain better insights into what’s really driving ridership levels.

  2. Years ago It was completely

    Years ago It was completely reliable.  That is no longer the case.  And closing the coffee shop at Central was not exactly friendly either.  

    1. Ticket Price Increases

      IL’s population decline has not reached areas near the UP-N, yet ridership continues to decline. The answer is obvious – it’s simply no longer cost effective to take the Metra relative to other options. Even parking in parts of the business district is cheaper than a round trip from C zone.  

  3. Are all rides counted?
    I’ve been on several rides in the last few years where no conductors came to sell me a ticket after i got on (Main has no ticket office). Is it possible there has been no ridership decline, but a ticket selling decline?

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