• Metra going to alternative schedule, operating fewer trains

    Metra commuters traveling to and from work next week will have fewer trains to choose from as the railway scales back service in response to a COVID-19-related drop in passengers.

    Metra officials announced they would switch to an alternate schedule effective Monday that provides about half the trains normally offered. It will still provide "adequate service for those who still need to travel," officials said.

    Metra will try to keep the regular number of cars on trains to allow for social distancing -- people staying 6 feet apart.

    The reduced schedule will be in place until conditions normalize.

    Metra ridership has tumbled after schools closed, thousands of people began working from home, and large events were canceled to prevent the spread of the respiratory disease that can cause pneumonia.

    "This is an unprecedented situation; we are attempting to do our best to provide service for those who still need public transportation and match service with demand," Executive Director Jim Derwinski said in a statement.

    Additional trains could be dropped if ridership warrants, but officials pledged to provide plenty of notice for riders.

    On the BNSF Line, Metra's busiest route, the alternative schedule still offers 10 morning rush trains to the city from Naperville between 5 and 9 a.m., for example. Coming home from Union Station, there are seven trains between 4 and 7 p.m. Monday to Friday.

    All but one of Metra's routes -- the Heritage Corridor -- will experience the temporary service reductions.

    To find out what the alternate schedules entail, go to metrarail.com.