Metra to close some stations, ban food and drink during NATO
A man pulls his luggage up the ramp to a waiting Metra train. | Joseph P. Meier~Sun-Times Media
The CTA will reroute 10 buses during the NATO Summit, but the agency says it’s ready to take on Metra riders displaced by service disruptions on the Electric Line and also drivers who might ditch their cars in anticipation of heavy traffic.
“We are prepared for the NATO weekend not only in terms of the reroutes, but in terms of the additional service we expect will be required for the weekend,” CTA spokesman Brian Steele said. “In addition to NATO, we have the Crosstown Classic — Cubs and Sox at Wrigley Field — so we have additional service in place for both the bus and rail side to accommodate the expected higher ridership.”
The following buses are being rerouted for all or a portion of the weekend due to street closures for public gatherings: No. 3 King Drive; No. 4 Cottage Grove; No. 6 Jackson Park Express; No. 10 Museum of Science & Industry; No. 12 Roosevelt, No. 18 16th/18th, No. 14 Jeffery Express, No. 21 Cermak, No. 35 35th, and No. 146 Inner Drive/Michigan Express.
But the CTA plans no other service disruptions, including on the Green Line L, which runs just west of the summit site.
The transit agency will not have additional security screening throughout the weekend, but there will be additional security details at some locations.
Updated: June 18, 2012 8:26AM
Walking into a Metra station during NATO weekend might be a bit like walking into Soldier Field: No beverages, no backpacks and no weapons.
That means no morning coffee during your May 21 commute, patdowns and other security measures the U.S. Secret Service doesn’t want to disclose.
Metra announced its plans Friday to step up security for the NATO Summit — including closing 26 stations on the Electric Line on Monday to focus security on stations with higher ridership.
At the Millennium Station downtown, riders reacted to the news their commute to work on May 21 will be fouled up.
Renee Jackson, 50, of South Shore, learned her Electric Line station will be closed that day.
“I can catch a bus, but still my bus goes downtown on Lake Shore Drive (which will be closed from 39th to Balbo), so it’s still going to be affected; and I just started my job so I can’t take a vacation day,” Jackson said.
“It’s an inconvenience, but what can you do?” she said.
Cesar Mark, 42, rides the Electric Line to and from Hyde Park every day. His station will be closed, too.
“I get on at 47th (Street), so that’s going to affect my route. I have to get to another station in Hyde Park. That’s going to be my only hurdle.
“I don’t mind the extra security at all. I think it’s what they have to do to keep us safe.”
Metra said 90 percent of its trips won’t be affected: Regular service will be offered on 10 of 11 lines — all but the Electric Line, which runs under McCormick Place, the site of the summit.
The Blue Island branch of the Electric Line will be shut down entirely May 21.
That news doesn’t make for happy riders at the Blue Island station, including Nora McGann of Hyde Park, who visits a Blue Island doctor.
“I have a doctor’s appointment I won’t be able to go to,” McGann said. “I don’t drive so (taking the Electric Line) is the only way there.
“It’s going to mess up lives.”
Blue Island resident Ann James agreed.
“It’s going to be a lot of confusion around here.”
Tom Gurskis of Blue Island said “it’s imposing on civil rights.
“It’s like the rich going, ‘You’re imposing on our meeting.’ We’re like leftovers. It’s wrong. It’s like they have that NATO Summit and we have to revolve around them.”
In addition to the Blue Island branch closing, no inbound Electric Line trains at all will run between noon and 6 p.m. May 21. The NATO Summit ends at noon, but the transit agency wanted to allow for extra time should it not end exactly on time. Outbound service won’t be affected.
The plan was announced just days before the summit, but the agency says it’s posting fliers at all stations and providing information on its website, metrarail.com, for affected riders.
Amtrak and the South Shore Line also run trains under McCormick Place. Amtrak plans no cancellations during the summit. The Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District, which operates the South Shore from Chicago to South Bend, Ind., said no trains will be canceled or rerouted, though riders should expect “significant security-related delays” during the summit.
Five Metra Electric stations — 47th Street, 27th Street, McCormick Place, 18th Street and Museum Campus/11th Street — will be closed from Saturday to May 21. Twenty-one other stations will be closed on May 21 only: 111th Street, 107th Street, 103rd Street, 95th Street, 91st Street, 87th Street, 83rd Street, 79th Street, 75th Street, 63rd Street, Blue Island, Burr Oak, Ashland, Racine, West Pullman, Stewart Ridge, State Street, 87th Street, Cheltenham, Windsor Park and Bryn Mawr.