February 5, 2017-The South Shore rail line to Chicago saw yet another decline in ridership in 2016. According to figures released last week, ridership was down by nearly 115,000 passenger boardings for the year despite a huge bump from the Chicago Cubs victory. The Cubs World Series parade set a record for the most riders in a day with over 29,000 riders. Weekday ridership was under 12,000 riders per day. Total ridership was 3.5M, showing a steady decline since the peak ridership in 2007 of 4.25M. Despite the continued losses, RDA Consultant Bill Sheldrake of Policy Analytics predicts dramatic increases in ridership. According to Sheldrake, the steep ridership declines will stop and ridership will double in the next ten years if we commit over $1.5B to infrastructure improvements on the South Shore line and build the West Lake Extension. Sheldrake previously predicted that investing $200M in the Gary/Chicago International Airport would bring 86,000 jobs.
South Shore management recently made national news as hundreds of passengers were stuck on trains for as long as 8 hours. The Gazette spoke with several passengers who said they would never, ever step foot on a South Shore train again after the incident. Ridership is almost certain to decline further as a result of the mangled mismanagement of a normal region weather event.