March 1, 2018-The most important measure of an idea is in the marketplace and the South Shore Commuter Railroad is continuing to fail in that marketplace. The final ridership numbers have been published by South Shore operator Northern indiana Commuter Transportation District and they are dismal. Despite dramatically increased spending, ridership on the South Shore line fell to levels below 2005. The decline in ridership is steady and continuous since a peak of 4.2M riders in 2008 when the Dan Ryan Expressway was under construction. Total ridership in 2017 was 3.4M, down from 3.5M in 2016 and 3.6M in 2017.
Expense numbers for 2017 were not readily available, however, the 2015 chart below shows the expenses increasing by 36% over the ten year period 2006-2015. These figures do not represent costs for positive train control nor do they represent the millions of dollars being spent by the failed Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority (RDA) on behalf of the capital projects proposed. Exact figures are not available, but it is estimated that Governor Holcomb’s RDA has spent as much as $15M on the South Shore line in the past 3 years.