Leave No Station Unphotographed: The Blog of SubwayNut.com

 

Stopping in Elyria on a sad trip to Syracuse

In August my grandmother, Mary Louise Hartenstien died at age 93. This grandmother was my travel companion on many trips from going to the Galapagos, to Costa Rica, on a Disney cruise, and on a trip that’s particularly covered on this website, going on the Rocky Mountaineer. Making stopovers on trips to visit her are the reason that I’ve visited every stop (I know Niagara Falls, NY has a new station) on the Empire Service.

When we got the call midday on a Sunday, Louise and I quickly through clothes in a suitcase, grabbed a variety of items for self-care and hopped in the car. I also grabbed my camera.

I was down to two stops I need on the Lake Shore Limited route between Chicago and New York, around 6:00pm, to give Louise a little break from driving, and in the name my self-care, we stopped at Elyria(35 Photos), where I enjoyed getting a photo essay of the stop with just an AmShelter after the main station burned down. I hope to get to Sandusky, my one remaining station, sometime soon.

A couple days into our four days in Syracuse my Dad needed to get back to New York so we dropped him off at the Syracuse Amtrak Station-( added). As part of this update I’ve also gone through my photo archive and added some not-posted photos of the Syracuse Amtrak(25 Photos) station I used countless times to visit my grandmother.

This post is very much in memory of my grandmother, and my numerous train trips to Syracuse, who appreciated my hobby to photograph train stations much more than my parents ever have, Enjoy!

A long-weekend in Disneyland with a quick LA Metro Green Line Trip to LAX

I’ve been working on a variety of website projects over the past few months, none of which have ended in an update. Now I have a small LA Metro Green Line transit update from a trip we took to Disneyland in late August.

On our way to Disneyland we were scheduled to fly South Bend to LAX, via Detroit. I was planning to have us take the Green Line to Norwalk to an Uber but our original South Bend to Detroit flight was delayed and around Noon the Friday we were flying out I was able to rebook us on a SBN-DTW-SLC-SNA itinerary that did add an extra stop and a couple extra hours of travel time but meant we didn’t need to deal with LAX which felt like a good trade-off.

On the way home, a friend of Louise’s had come up from San Diego to go to Disneyland with us and had her car. She offered to drive to LAX, which we said wouldn’t be fully necessary, but a ride to Norwalk at the end of the Green Line, removing the need for an uber, or an OCTA-Metrolink-City of Norwalk Transit System Bus to get to the Green Line, made the day much more streamlined.

As we drove north on the 5, we found ourselves in the wrong lane to get off at Imperial Highway to get to the Norwalk Green Line station. Instead we were in the lane to get on the 105 West that the Green Line runs in the median of, so I redirected us to the Lakewood(14 Photos added) and we got off there. Put some money including some extra for future Dinseyland trips (we’ve gotten annual passes) on our TAP Cards, and took a not so smelly elevator down to the platform.

Lakewood Elevator

I then got to photograph a train of new P865s for the first time heading the other way to Norwalk.

P3010 stops at Lakewood.

Our train soon arrived, and it was an older P2000 which left me disappointed.

It was a nice quick ride down the median of the 105/Century Freeway to the Aviation/LAX Station were we got off at 9:20am exactly 2 hours before our flight. There we took the elevator down to the plaza and followed the crowd of a mixture of travelers and airline employees. Including a Cathay Pacific employee who was kindly helping a disoriented elderly traveler with the shuttle bus and calling her “Auntie”. We got on a very crowded Shuttle bus for the short ride to LAX, getting off at Terminal 2, the first of 2 Delta terminals. Our flight was departing from Terminal 3 which required an uncovered walk outside along the departures roadway, we could have stayed on the bus. We got there, cleared security, and had a nice breakfast in the SkyClub.

We had a longer layover in Minneapolis and Louise was craving a burger instead of fancy lounge food. I took a ride round-trip on the C Concourse People Mover Tram and one of these rides included an employee with a floorboard open, greasing the cable that moves the tram.

Enjoy! I have a bunch of larger updates in the works, so stay tuned to this blog.

South Shore Line Service Suspended due to Deep Freeze – A visit to 11th Street with minimal signage

For the past 4 days (service on the entire route re-started yesterday, Sunday, February, 3), South Shore Line service along with Metra Electric service was completely suspended first on Wednesday, January 30, due to the extreme cold causing (the high temperature was -15 degrees in South Bend) issues with the catenary wires. This was followed by a freight train derailment that evening from a CN train running along the Metra electric line that knocked out power poles and substations near Harvey, although this area is south of Kensington where the South Shore Line joins Metra territory, it effected the entire power system for the Metra Electric line causing the South Shore to continue suspending all service instead of running Indiana only service (there were also some reports of wire damage in South Bend with a tentative service restoration for Friday and Saturday announcing bus service from Carroll Avenue to South Bend). All normal service to South Bend has resumed since the electrical issue in South Bend took less time to fix.

On Saturday, Louise and I (after spending two days in the house midweek with the city closed due to the extreme cold) decided to head to Michigan City in the warming weather for some outlet shopping and lunch at a restaurant we like. Even if South Shore Line service not suspended, its a trip we drive because of  the limited South Shore Line schedule and first mile/last mile issues mean the train just doesn’t make sense. On our way home I have Louise pull into 11th Street(10 Photos), and drive into a snow covered parking lot that could used a plow/clearly hasn’t had cars driving in and out of it due to the South Shore Line’s service suspension.

There I don’t see any clear evidence of the service suspension, heat is still on on the shelter. I go into the shelter and there is a tiny hand-highlighted typed sign on computer paper attached to one of the station’s TVM’s saying service is suspended on Saturday.

 

A moment later the station’s audio-visual information system does turn out saying “All service is currently suspended, we will update this message when service resumes.”

I also get some photos of the 11th Street Michigan City letters covered in snow.

I have to say that I’m used to how the New York Commuter Railroads normally handle service suspensions, with shuttle bus service always provided, once at least weather conditions are safe for bus service. Not running any replacement service on Wednesday and Thursday, when the South Shore had already announced a limited service schedule (with buses replacing trains from Carroll Avenue to South Bend Airport) due to the extreme cold made sense since all schools, and most offices/business were closed (I worked from home on Wednesday on Thursday).

What I’m astounded by was the only service alternatives the South Shore Line recommend on Friday and Saturday were driving to Hegewisch and taking the regular local CTA bus route 30 to the Red Line, or to Metra Rock Island Stations for Metra Service. You would think the South Shore Line would at least run limited bus service, using perhaps the buses they were already scheduled to use between South Bend and Carroll Avenue, to provide some service for anyone without a car. In addition the South Shore Line should have included the fact that Gary PTC Route R1 connects Gary Metro Center, the East Chicago South Shore Station, to Pace near the State Line, allowing a possible but long trip from Gary to Chicago.

Metra Electric wasn’t quite as poor during the service suspension as the South Shore Line with Pace providing a shuttle bus service from 3 Metra electric stations (for literally 3 rush hour trips) to 3 nearby Rock Island Line stations, and recommending riders take other PACE and CTA buses. Metra Electric has full regularly scheduled PACE and CTA bus coverage for it’s entire route network. The South Shore Line doesn’t have parallel bus service east of Gary and should have better plans to run emergency replacement bus service if all service is suspended.

A Hot Summer Weekend Trip to Chicago including renovated Clark/Division

We are currently in the middle of an arctic freeze here in South Bend, the temperature had a low of negative 8 degrees last night. I am continuing to work on catching up on my 2018 trip reports and this one took place on Saturday June 30th, 2018 to July 1st, 2018 which was an overnight trip for me and Louise into Chicago to stay with friends and swim in their pool (and possibly also in the lake).

On Saturday June 30th we took the afternoon 1:05pm train to Chicago instead of the usual 9:01am express train that starts most of my weekend Chicago trips. We had some things to take care of at home in South Bend and Saturday morning seemed best. The extra 35 minutes making lots all the local stops plus the crew change in the Michigan City yard made this train ride feel painfully slow, but otherwise uneventful. At Millennium Station we found a new in office building exit from the station that got us to the northbound side of Michigan Avenue where we wanted to be (photos are too bury to share, will return to this entrance) and stopped for a snack before an easy 15 minute bus ride on Route 151 up to our friends house on the Gold Coast. After the rest of the afternoon lounging in a pool, we realized it was cheaper to get a VIA ride share for the 4 of us up to Pequod’s Pizza, than all pay for the two stop Red Line ride. Wanting to walk of dinner (and with slightly cooler temperatures) we took the Red Line back the two stops from Fullerton to State/Lake.

Sunday morning Louise found a stationary store she wanted to go to in Lincoln Park, and heading up there seemed like a good activity on this over a hundred degree day. We got on the ‘L’ at Clark/Division(3 Photos), and I snapped my first publishable (iPhone) photos of the trip. Today, as I’ve gotten to processing these photos I now realize that State/Division has been renovated and received a new western mezzanine since I first wrote up a photo essay for it so these 3 photos are my only ones of it post renovation, guess I’ll need to add it to my revisit/get more photos list.

 

We took the Red Line up to Fullerton(8 Photos) and walked beneath the tracks in what is a parking alley between through DePaul University, I got some photos of the emergency exit staircases that exit both platforms.

 

We ended up getting lunch near the Armitage(6 Photos).

With the extreme heat walking back up to Fullerton to catch the Red Line didn’t seem appealing, so we took a  Brown Line one stop north back to Fullerton(3 Photos) and double-backed onto a 95th-bound Red Line, we took this train to Chicago, wanting to visit a store on Michigan Avenue before heading back to our friends apartment to grab our luggage on the Route 151 bus (a 25 cent transfer).

After getting our luggage (and with the new $15 Uber credit posting for the month on my AMEX Platinum Card, and no further city trips for July planned) we decided to Uber back to Millennium Station for the 4:43 train home to South Bend. This Uber ride had a driver who clearly didn’t understand the lower-levels of Columbus Drive and other streets just south of Chicago River, who chickened out and headed back up to the surface, not dropping us off at the super convenient car entrance to Millennium Station at the same level and right next to the South Shore Line platforms.

The 4:43 was another uneventful, not very comfortable South Shore Line train home, we had downloaded some shows to my iPad to watch together to pass the time on the ride home which was nice. I got a nice photo at South Bend Airport(1 Photo) of our just arrived train as we got into the car at the Kiss’n’Ride area where Louise’s Dad had come to pick us up.

An Summer Evening Rush Hour Trip to Miller, Portage/Ogden Dunes and Dune Park on the South Shore Line

The following trip took place on Thursday, June 14, 2018.

One of my major goals this summer is to finish the South Shore Line, one major reason I stopped at East Chicago last Sunday on my way to spend the day railfanning in Chicago. Earlier in the week, I had a couple of evening meetings and need to take an afternoon off because I was over time. With Louise away I thought about going on an evening trip into Chicago to get some of the Rush Hour Metra Lines (I have a fascination with them, and really want to ride the North Central Service in particular), unfortunately life got in the way, with some errands to run so I settled for an evening trip (that I could have done after a regular day of work) to get the middle 3 South Shore Stations I am missing.

I decide to bike to the airport on this nice warm sunny day, unfortunately I leave the house a little late and it’s was a sprint to Airport rail station, on my much more comfortable personal bike than my LimeBike on Sunday. I get to the Airport with moments to spare, and just make the train after locking my bike up to the rack. I purchase my mobile ticket for $10.25 that feels a little expensive, since I’m going just about two-thirds of the distance to Chicago and a ticket there is $14.00. I get a seat check with a hand-written ‘MIL’ written on it, as South Shore Line conductors due for westbound passengers going to intermediate stops before Chicago, Intermediate ridership on the South Shore has always felt really low, compared to most of the New York/New Jersey commuter rail lines.

I have an uneventful ride on the train. I spend the ride working on my laptop, on my website. I gain the hour and arrive in Miller-(36 Photos) 5:12 CT.  I get off and start my photo essay, running up to get the front of the train while it’s still stopped.

 

I take a little walk and visit a nearby ATM, wanting to just pay cash for my one-stop intermediate rides, and see how the conductors react. The South Shore Line’s TVMs only accept credit cards, so cash is still accepted on board without penalty except at stations with open ticket offices. On my walk I find a vandalized bus shelter missing pains of glass that this the closest Gary PTC stop (that finally has a modern website, but lacks decent route maps, schedules, and isn’t on Google Transit yet).

I head back to the station, I want to get a far shot from the parking lot but my next train is approaching a few minutes early (South Shore Line trains designate all stops east of Chicago on Eastbound trains as stops where the train may depart a few minutes ahead of schedule, another tactic that discourages intermediate ridership that is a good sign of real Regional rail). I cross back to the platform and photograph the entering 5:37pm train entering to Michigan City.

 

I climb the steps and get on the mostly empty car (a lot of the ridership on the South Shore at stops east of hear) and the conductor soon comes to collect $5.75 payment from me for my one stop, 5 mile ride, I don’t know if I’ve ever paid so much to go one stop on a Commuter rail line, the reason it’s expensive is I need a two fare zone ticket. I hand the conductor my cash, he gives me change and the strange South Shore Line cash receipt that doesn’t even look like a ticket, god forbid an intermediate traveler at rush hour needed to Transfer between trains, although I only know of one scenario on the schedule trying to get from South Bend (on the 6:00am Express train) to a local stop between Dune Park and East Chicago that would require just an 18 minute layover and this would make sense.

It’s a quick ride, I notice that the regular commuters start lining up at different doors in different vestibules for the low-level platform at Ogden Dunes than they did at Miller, I think to try and distribute seats better. I get off at Portage/Ogden Dunes(56 Photos) at 5:41, 3 minutes early and do my photo essay walking between the two grade-crossings that lead to the platform, and exploring one of the strange mini-high platforms with an electrically controlled platform extender.

  

After my photo essay I wait for the 6:09pm train to come in. Here the conductor asks me on the platform while passengers where I’m going as I’m getting on. I tell him Dune Park and am let on, my original thought for this trip was to say South Bend and see where they would tell me to get off to wait for the next train (and how they would handle my ticket). I pay him a “bargain” of $3.75 for this trip for this longer 8 mile ride after I board.

I get off at Dune Park(40 Photos) and start my photo essay of the two part station, original parking lot, and clearly additional parking lot, built to allow for station consolidation in the mid-1990s. As I get off I notice some people sitting on benches who ask the conductor if this is the train to South Bend, the conductors say no. After walking between the parking lots and getting streetside views of the large 1980s “retro”-looking depot that was built to be the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District Headquarters, I head across the pedestrian grade-crossing that provides access to a trail network in the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

  

At this point on my journey my camera dies, I get some more photos with my phone before it dies too.  I’m far enough away from the station when this happens that I don’t get any photos of the 6:29pm train that stops off in the distance. I head back to the passenger waiting room and find an awkwardly placed outlet to charge my phone (I’ve forgotten my camera charger). My phone is just waking up when my final train back to South Bend arrives at 6:29pm,

I board one of the rear cars of this train outside the station waiting area. There is a moment of confusion because the conductors have already cleared these cars asking all passengers to walk forward because of the short platform at the 4 remaining stations. The conductor wants my ticket or my $9.00 in cash for South Bend, hands me my receipt and I walk up to the more crowded front cars. I’m even-able to find a seat with an outlet, and plug my computer in with my phone alongside.

The ride is uneventful except my train has a meet around 7:30 CT with the final Chicago-bound train from South Bend west of Hudson Lake. We slowly hit the merry-go-around and enter the South Bend Airport Station(4 Photos), my bike is there, I get a few photos of the station and bike home into the sunset, happy to call the South Shore Line (in Indiana at least) “done” until the Double Tracking project brings a bunch of new high-level platforms and improved stations.

Bonus: Hegewisch-(5 Photos), I got a very abbreviated photo essay I once biked there back in 2016 on a not blogged about trip and got a few photos (on my phone before it died after my camera had died) waiting for the South Shore home, I’ve added this page but Hegewisch is on my revisit list.

Happy New Year and the special South Bend Westmoor St Stop for the NHL Winter Classic

Happy New Year everyone, although I still have about 6 trips to write up (and upload photos from) in 2018, my little adventure on New Years Day I just need to write a post about a rare opportunity for me to photograph some unique content at home in South Bend.

A few weeks ago the South Shore Line posted a service advisory about a special train they would be running from and to Chicago for fans attending the 2019 NHL Winter Classic that would be played at Notre Dame Stadium. I read the service advisory and unlike simply running bus service from the South Bend Airport as they’ve done since I’ve moved to South Bend they would be using a special event stop at “Westmoor St“. With buses provided by a charter company since Tranpso is fully closed on the Holiday.

Here are two screenshots of the details from the South Shore website:

The part of this temporary schedule that I found most bizarre is that the times for South Bend are from the incorrect timetable, and listed in Central Time (were in Eastern Time), although I know for simplicity sake the South Shore’s “railroad time” is Central Time so they don’t need to deal with time zones for crews and the like.

Anyway, New Years morning came with Louise and I sleeping in, I opened the South Shore Line’s Train tracker on my iPad from bed around 10:00 ET, no sign of a special train on the tracker. We finally woke up around 11:00, I debated biking the couple of miles over to Westmoor Street but with temperatures in the 20s decided just to drive. I leave the house at 11:45 for the 7 minute drive from Colfax Avenue, past the Amtrak Station, before I turn onto Bendix Drive. As I approach Westmoor Street to turn onto it and follow the South Shore tracks along the Honeywell factory where I think the special events station is, I’m surprised to find signs about the road being closed or anything else. Then I notice some buses off in the distance, blocking the westbound lane and bike lane of low-traffic Westmoor Street and a few cars parked (including a police car and vehicle with Municipal government plates) just beyond the buses. I drive down the street and park right behind in this line of cars (blocking a bike lane) and ett out, knowing in typical South Bend small city fashion no one should care that I’m double-parked.

I cross the street and start my photo essay of Westmoor St(25 Photos).

Within 3 minutes of my arrival (before I have a change to open the train tracker on my phone and see where the train is), I hear a whistle and see the South Shore train approach at 11:56 am a few minutes early. I get some fun photos across the street of the conductors opening the traps between some (not all of the cars) and passengers transferring from the train to buses.

   

At Noon, after a stop of 4 minutes, I’m standing by my car again (not wanting to give NICTD’s finest any ideas) and get some nice photos of the train leaving the special event station and curving onto Bendix Drive to head towards the airport.

 

I then get back in the car and watch some of the buses leave in a convoy. The buses needed to wait for the train to leave because the train crosses their route on Bendix Drive heading to Notre Dame Stadium.

I drive home, happy to get a photo essay of this amenity-less special event stop. This station page should get some more (older) photos soon because it will become home to photos I’ve taken on a few occasions of South Shore Line trains merry-go-round route into the airport. I also want to return to get some more photos of the non-existent ‘station’ platform.

Rebuilt Stamford and Darien with many new photos!

I’ve continued to work on the New Haven Line from my archive on the side while working on trips from this year.

In this update I’ve rebuilt to my modern navigation standards and added full summaries for two more important New Haven Line stations from my large photo archive:

Stamford(61 new photos)

  

Darien-(25 new Photos)

 

Enjoy!

The Long Downtown Chicago Subway platforms and the Boston-bound only Lake Shore Limited Home

This is the final part 3 of East Chicago & the Rock Island Day on June 10, 2018. Part 1|Part 2

After a good half hour break in the DePaul Barnes & Noble Cafe, and a firm plan to meet some friends at Millennium Park to see what the free Chicago Blues Festival is all about; I head back out to State Street and armed with a One Day Ventra Card I decided to finally walk and try and do every exit from the State Street Subway platform. I tap back in at the northern fare control area to Jackson-(5 Photos) and immediately start walking north down the platform.

I soon reach the southern exit to the Monroe(18 Photos) and the Monroe-Adams Mezzanine with a closed escalator, I continue outside of fare control on street level (one of my main goals is familiarizing myself with every exit) to the northern fare control area and tap back in.

   

My plan is to see if I could walk through the abandoned Washington Station(6 Photos) that was closed for construction for now abandoned Block 57 project but this plywood barricade around the start of one of the escalators to the closed Washington/Madison Mezzanine made me turn back although I’ve since learned that technically the platform here is still open to the public here, so I could have continued to Lake.

I walk back and used the staircase only exit at to the northern Monroe/Madison Mezzanine and walked down State street, getting some photos of the abandoned Washington Station entrances still clad in gold on the street.

 

I then realized it’s time to walk over to Millennium Park where I walk by the new Washington/Wabash(1 Photo) Station and continue to Millennium Park. There I enjoy seeing my friends and how Millennium Park feels in a festival setting. Southwest Airlines is running a spin the wheel giveaway and I win a surprisingly nice tote bag.

Eventually I grab a well-deserved large meal with one of my friends and eventually walk him over to Lake(7 Photos) and tap him onto the Red Line. I then head back up to the surface since trying to board a train here will activate a Ventra ticket passback.

 

I still have a good hour before my train leaves so I decide the next stop I want to make is the new Washington/Wabash Station(20 Photos) at night, the lighting is dramatic as I have hoped for.

   

I don’t board any trains at this stop and end up leaving the platform through the southern exit only staircase. I end up walking down Washington Street and getting a nighttime photo of the abandoned Red Line Washington Station.

I still have a little time before I need to be across town at Union Station and decide to continue over to Washington(7 Photos) on the Blue Line.

 

With a train to catch and wanting to maximize time getting mezzanines at Monroe(21 Photos) I hop on the next train to the middle stopping position on the long Dearborn Street Subway. At this station I do both mezzanines, getting off at the Madison/Monroe Mezzanine and then walking down the street to the next mezzanine south at Adams Street.

   

Then I walk down the long platform to Jackson(11 Photos)past the closed southern staircase to the Monroe/Adams mezzanine. I notice the start of the modern platform walls just beyond the most northern exit staircase.

 

At this point it’s 8:53 and don’t leave fare control at Jackson, deciding it’s time to head over to Union Station to catch my train. I take the next Blue Line train two stops to Clinton(5 Photos).

 

From there I walk the couple blocks towards Union Station(10 Photos) and decide to enter through the new bus loop.

  

The Lake Shore Limited has started boarding. It feels rather strange since its running to Boston only this summer due to construction on the Empire Connector that’s rerouting all Empire Service trains into Grand Central Terminal that has no way to service a Long Distance train like the Lake Shore. All the station signs now just say Train 448 to Boston. I don’t bother going into the awful boarding lounge and instead walk down the walkway along the south gates and join the queue out to the platform as others leave the boarding lounge with General boarding just begin. As we head out to the platform I see the rear locomotive of the last Hiawatha train of the night that has just arrived and pulled through to the Southern platforms to discharge it’s passengers for easier yard access.

The Lake Shore Limited is shorter than the usual combined trainset as we walk by a couple Viewliner Sleepers and then Viewliner diner Providence. This dining car is not having its brand new kitchen used but is instead just a Sleeping Car “Lounge” and boxed meal storage area for Amtrak’s new “Contemporary Dining” cold boxed meal service that began at the start of June on this route and the Lake Shore Limited.

I continue up to the assigned car for South Bend, the car attendant isn’t assigning individual seats and I take a window seat.

The train leaves on time at 9:30pm. It’s a largely uneventful ride that I spend doing some work on laptop that I’ve brought with me. I get some photos of us passing over the 63rd Street Station that I stopped at earlier in the day but they appear blurry as expected.

The conductor takes a surprisingly long time to come and scan my ticket as we pass through Gary, he finally reaches me at Porter and it becomes apparent why things have taken so long, the conductor asks for our last names and destinations, reporting that his iPhone ticket scanner is broken. My tired self soon arrives home in South Bend at 12:16am 16 minutes late.

I’m happy to have Louise’s car waiting for me and don’t have to play games with Lyft or Uber and it’s a quick 7 minute straight shot drive home down Washington Street. Happy for another fun day getting more Chicago Metra Stations.

Busing and Lime eBiking the Beverly Hills Area Rock Island Line Stations

This is part 2 of East Chicago and Metra Rock Island Day, here is Part 1.

I get off the Red Line at 87th Street, and get on the appropriately named 87 bus that leads be eastbound towards the Rock Island Line. I get off when I see a Metra logo on a viaduct at Gresham(29 Photos). 

There I do a photo essay of the non-accessible viaduct station with two entrances.

  

From there I walk to the next Route 87 bus stop and take the next bus to Loomis Street, then I walk south a few blocks to the basically street-median Brainerd Station(24 Photos)

 

I keep walking east following the tracks and then a little south to the most northern Beverly Hills Station, 91 Street(22 Photos)

I get my photo essay of this station basically in a park and it starts raining harder. I walk down a paved bike path along Beverly Blvd that I think will provide direct access following the rail line but unfortunately the only connection to Vanderpoel Avenue to stay closer to the rail line is this gap in a random fence which I climb through.

I keep walking to 95th Street(27 Photos)

 

While I’m doing my photo essay at 95th Street, I see Chicago dockless bike share bikes that are being piloted in this neighborhood since bringing DIVVY bike share so far south is years away. I open the LimeBike app and see that there are some lime petal assist eBikes nearby on 95th Street. These are more expensive than the conventional bikes in South Bend since they charge both a $1 rental fee plus a 15 cent per minute fee. Since it’s raining and the idea I can make the day much more efficient I decide to give one a try. I scan the LimeBike app and am off to 99th Street(15 Photos). At 99th Street I leave the clock on my Limebike running while I do a photo essay including dashing inside the station house.

 

I arrive at 103rd Street(12 Photos), and lock my lime bike. This 13 minute ride cost $2.95 minus $1 I have in credits, so $1.95 out of pocket.

 

After getting my photo essay and debating if I want to take the bus across to the rush hour only 103rd Street-Washington Heights stop on the Metra mainline I decide to check out the same LimeBike again and ride to 107th Street(10 Photos).

I keep my lime bike unlocked as I get my photo essay of this simple station before riding to 111th Street/Morgan Park(39 Photos) where I lock my LimeBike. The 10 minute ride costing $2.50 but only $1.50 out of pocket due to a second $1 credit I have in my LimeBike wallet.

 

I debate what’s next and look at the LimeBike Service area and realize that I can’t LimeBike all the way to 123rd Street in Blue Island because it’s outside the City of Chicago and the LimeBike Service area. So looking at the bus map rent the LimeBike again for a 6 minute $1.90 ride to 115th Street/Morgan Park(15 Photos), where I don’t learn until later the depot recently burned down.

At this point it’s time to call it a day on the Rock Island Line’s suburban branch but not before getting the two intermediate stops on the main line that only receive service during rush hour. To start this process I re-rent the lime bike and take a 13 minute $2.95 ride to 103rd St-Washington Heights(30 Photos), I’m really enjoying the pedal assist feature of the Lime eBikes! There I get some photos of passing Sunday Express train.

 

I do my photo essay and retreat to a bus shelter to wait for the next 112 bus that follows the Blue Island main line to continue north and am treated to two locomotives from a locomotive leasing company going by.

 

I take the 112 bus the short distance to busy 95th Street where I do my final Metra photo essay of the day at 95th St-Longwood Manor(15 Photos). The LimeBike in these photos wasn’t used by me.

I then walk to nearby stop where I can catch the 95 or 112 (and have some Pace buses pass me by), and have a good 10 minute wait with my phone dying from all the LimeBike rides and navigation.

I ride the 95 bus east to the new 95th Street Day Ryan Station with it’s large south terminal building with improved bus bays and a northern building under construction.

  

I get on the next Howard-bound train.

It’s a fairly eventful ride downtown, I end up first switching cars because of a passenger smoking in my car. Next I experience something I’ve never seen before a loosie cigarette seller. A man walks down the train with a pack of cigarettes and multiple people grab a couple of cigarettes from the pack and hand the guy a few bucks. There is strangely no verbal discussion during the loosie cigarette transaction.

I take this train to Jackson-(9 Photos) where I get off and seek refuge with a place to charge my phone (along with a hot chocolate) in the Barnes and Noble in DePaul University to finalize my evening plans.

Continue reading as I get the Downtown Chicago Subway Platforms and take the Lake Shore Limited home.

Starting a SubwayNut Day Trip to Chicago via a car, LimeBike and the South Shore Line to 55th-56th-57th via a stop at East Chicago with a visit from NICTD’s Finest

This post is part one of East Chicago and Metra Rock Island Day.

This past summer, on June 10, 2018 to be exact. I found myself with a weekend alone in South Bend while Louise was in Poland for a conference. I was hoping to join her in Europe but I’m still too new in my job and wasn’t quite able to horde enough vacation time to be able to. The plan originally for the weekend was to go on a bike adventure into Chicago to tackle some more Metra stations as a day trip on Saturday (when Metra has more frequent service) and then spend Sunday at home doing my weekend audlting. Friday night, my friend Adam texted me to say he would be driving through South Bend on his way to Chicago and if he could stop for dinner Saturday night, this meant I flipped my weekend around and decided to stay in South Bend on Saturday and go adventuring on Sunday. After a nice dinner on Saturday evening with Adam we decided that we might as well meet up Sunday late afternoon as well, before I return to South Bend after my Metra adventure.

Sunday morning arrives with dreary-looking weather and a forecast for on and off thunderstorms. I decide I don’t want to spend the day riding around on my bike wet and that a benefit of not bringing my bike is being able to take the faster Lake Shore Limited trip home, giving me a few more hours in Chicago (there is a 9:15pm CT South Shore Line train but that gets into South Bend at 12:46am ET, painfully late, compared to the earlier midnight arrival of the Lake Shore Limited that seems less painful). The next question though is the first mile/last mile how to get to the train station since the South Bend Amtrak Station, and South Shore Line Station are at different places? I decide on what I feel is an indigenous solution with access to Louise’s car. There no LimeBikes by the Amtrak station but quite a few by my apartment so after trying one LimeBike that I can’t seem to get to unlock, at 8:24 I unlock a LimeBike and dump it in the back of the car.

I drive to the Amtrak Station and park Louise’s car, before getting on the LimeBike for a peddling quickly ride to the airport, nervous I’m not going to make the train. I lock the LimeBike up at 8:57 and board the 9:01am Express train bound for Chicago. One of my nearer term goals is to finally finish the South Shore Line, and the Saturday morning schedule means I can easily make a 52 minute stop at East Chicago. I purchase my $11.00 ticket using the app. The conductor soon comes, I tap my iPhone screen and get a little white seat check that has EC written in pen on it. The South Shore Line assumes everyone is riding into Chicago and on westbound trains conductors use a pen to write down your destination, if you’re getting off sooner.

It’s an uneventful, express South Shore Line ride, with a quick stop at the flag stop of Hudson Lake, the train having to briefly pause to activate the signal near 11th Street in Michigan City before making it’s one intermediate stop at Beverly Shores. I then get off at East Chicago(49 Photos) at 9:27 CT. We arrive a few minutes early, just as the first Eastbound train of the day to South Bend pulls into the station. I get some photos of the trains passing and confuse some crew members not wanting to get on either train. Everyone is friendly to my picture taking.

  

I then slowly leave the platform, through the platforms only exit through a station house shared with the one NICTD Police station to get some photos of the train embankment from the parking lot.

  

I first walk to the South Shore Overflow Parking lot under the train line and toll road, shared with Knights of Columbus. I also get a nice view of a South Shore Freight billboard with a locomotive that has lights!

I walk back towards the main parking lot hoping to circle it and get photos of the signage at the other end of the parking lot, but soon I see a policeman leave the police station (in a wing of the passenger) and get into a police car, I keep taking pictures but soon notice the police car driving through the empty rows of the parking lot towards me.

He asks we what I’m doing “Taking pictures of random cars?” I explain, “I’m not, just have a hobby taking pictures of railroad stations and am trying to get some wide-angle shots of the station off in the distance.” He asks me for ID which I reluctantly give him, and doesn’t say I can’t take pictures at South Shore Line stations but he just wanted to check on my “suspicious” activity. Overall it’s one of my better website encounters with the police (which have happened over the years, although I don’t remember the last time, the most memorable was once on BART when a station agent wasn’t happy I was taking pictures, but a BART cop was extremely friendly and supportive of my hobby, ending our conversation with “Time for me to go down and try and calm down the station agent”).

   

I do decide to end my parking lot walk slightly short and return to the station. There I get some headhouse photos and buy my next ticket to 57th Street (as the South Shore Line calls it) from the TVM for $6.25, this stopover has cost me $4.75  South Shore fares definitely favor those traveling longer distances, with a high ‘price to board and ride one stop fee’!

 

I return to the platform, sit on a bench and relax, before getting some photos of my train entering at 10:17 CT.

I board this train, which feels less crowded than the express train an hour ago, get my ticket collected, and make two intermediate stops at Hammond and then Hegewisch, in Indiana and then Chicago, Illinois. We then slowly curve onto the Metra Electric Line and run express to what the South Shore Line simply calls 57th Street(51 Photos). I get photos of my South Shore Line train departing and walk towards the 55th Street exit down a path between the tracks.

   

I don’t currently have an Active Ventra Card (long story) and want to take buses over to the Rock Island Line which doing stations on is my goal for the day. The Ventra website says the Walgreens on 55th Street sells Ventra cards so I head over there. I get there and there signs about Ventra cards in the store windows but the staff rudely tells me “Sorry we’re sold out of Ventra cards we can’t sell you one.” I walk by a historic building originally used by the Chicago Cable Car Company.

I then return to get the 56th Street and then 57th Street entrances of the Metra Electric Station, thinking about my next steps.

 

I then remember that the Museum of Science and Industry at least used to have CTA Farecard machines that I assume have been replaced by Ventra machines. I head the couple of blocks over there are enter by the bus loop, no sign of the machines outside the bus loop so I decide to head down the couple of flights to the main entrance lobby through the underground parking garage. There I find what I need a single Ventra Machine!

It unfortunately can only sell Ventra tickets, not new Ventra cards, so I decide just to buy a Ventra Day Pass for $10 and not think about my taps on and off of the CTA.

After completing my slight detour to get a Ventra card I walk south to the other Metra Electric goal of the day 59th Street-University of Chicago(18 Photos). As I head up to the first platform (each has just one entrance) of the simple station, I notice a Metra police car sitting in the bushes alongside the freight ROW, as much as I might have enjoyed watching a police car drive down the train tracks thinking I’m suspicious I don’t do a full photo essay of the simple platforms and focus on the unique entrance areas and single staircase up to each platform.

 

I then head to Stony Island Avenue where I used my Ventra ticket, to board a Route 15 bus that’s just arriving for a very short ride to 63rd Street. There I board a Route 63 bus that I board and wait for a few minutes since I’m at the routes terminus for a longer ride down 63rd Street, under the end of the East 63rd branch of the Green Line over to the Dan Ryan Expressway.

I tap onto the Red line at 63rd(17 Photos) where at Elevator has been installed since my last visit to the station in 2011.

  

From 63rd, I take a Southbound Red Line train in 4 minutes two stops to 87th(15 Photos), there I slowly exit the station, photograph some artwork that isn’t new, notice a new elevator shaft and wait 6 minutes for the 87 bus to get to my first Rock Island Line Metra Station.

  

Continue Reading: Busing and Lime eBiking the Beverly Hills Area Rock Island Line Stations.