11.8.15

THE SQUEAKY (BIKE) WHEEL GETS A TRAIN RIDE.

We reported, earlier this summer, that the South Shore Line stood out among the Chicago area commuter railroads, in not accepting bicycles as passenger cargo, a stance that earned the Last Interurban a Broken Spoke Award.  By next spring, the Genius Department at Michigan City will have a few cars equipped to handle bicycles.
The pilot program will outfit three cars with specially made bike racks, which will each carry 25 to 30 bike racks each. The pilot bike program will only run on weekends and cyclists must get on and off at stations with high-level boarding platforms.
With floor height platforms at Hegewisch, Hammond, East Chicago, Dune Park, and South Bend, weekend riders will have a few options.  Bicycles in commuter trips are apparently too Danish, for now.  And the days of baggage-carrying trains are over.  But evidence of rising ridership, and plans to double track as far as Michigan City, might mean more cars, including cars equipped to handle bicycles, in future.
At a public hearing last month, officials presented a plan to carry bikes that was dependent on the purchase of new cars within five years. NICTD then would retrofit five existing cars at a price tag of about $10 million. When bike advocates and some NICTD board members heard the program likely would not start until 2021, they complained and officials began to look for a shorter-term solution.
We're sneaking up on the centennial of the coach-baggage arks of the Insull era, will a return of express service be in the future?

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