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.