Spending any amount of time looking at a Metra schedule or system map will inevitably lead you to think, “there’s a lot going on here, there’s got to be a simpler way to present all this.”
This might not be that way, but it’s something.
Today we’re rolling out our comprehensive Weekday Commuter Rail guide map that attempts to categorize the myriad types of routes and stopping patterns Metra operates throughout their system into one simple, easy-to-understand system that looks and feels more like transit than Amtrak. In a nutshell, here’s how our system works:
- Rather than naming lines based on Metra’s legacy railroads (e.g., Milwaukee West, Rock Island, etc.), lines are lettered and grouped into corridors. Corridors are named after parallel roads and highways the railroads follow heading into downtown.
- Lettered lines may be subdivided into different stopping patterns primarily for weekday peak period (“rush hour”) trips, focused on express/limited trains and local trains.
- Due to the intricacies of Metra’s schedules, not all formats fit the trains exactly, and that’s okay. Some stops may be skipped, some may be added, etc., but similarities between trains were identified and those trains were grouped together.
- All routes have two directions: inbound and outbound.
Here’s the weekday map:
With the weekday system mapped out, we also rolled out a weekend version. The next logical step was creating companion weekend timetables. Unlike Metra’s official timetables, and with our luxury of focusing only on weekend schedules, we were able to create an easier-to-read document with only one list of stations, with inbound trains moving up the list on the left side and outbound trains moving down the list on the right. This helps avoid the inevitable confusion many people wind up in with Metra’s timetables, which separate inbound and outbound trips. Each train is clearly marked with its lettered stopping pattern, which readers can match up with the maps.
Pick your terminal and check out your line’s weekend service below: