In April the South Shore posted its first monthly ridership increase since
December 2008, but with so many variables in play railroad officials said
Friday it’s too early to break out the champagne.
June 1 a 2 percent across-the-board fare increase takes effect as well as
changes to the family fare policy, both anticipated to raise about $350,000
this year, yet higher operating costs and uncertain state and federal
funding are prompting South Shore management to consider
consolidating/eliminating three off-peak weekday trains to save money.
Changes wouldn’t take place to morning Trains 14 and 114 and afternoon Train
211 until at least this fall after Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation
District directors discuss the proposal July 30, according to NICTD general
manager Gerald Hanas.
NICTD carried 320,714 passengers in April compared to last year, a 1.3
percent increase. The railroad averaged 12,942 passengers per day and
off-peak travel last month also rose by 4.7 percent buoyed by
stronger-than-expected ridership during the first series of Cubs home games.
The news was even better for ridership into and out of the South Bend
Regional Airport station that posted an 8 percent increase, its largest
April total in three years.
NICTD marketing director John Parsons said total 2010 ridership year-to-date
is down 3 percent. “We’re trying to dig ourselves out of a pretty bad
NICTD’s Boris Matakovic said new ticket vending machines being installed at
South Shore stations are well-received by passengers. As of this week nine
stops including Dune Park in Porter County will have the new cashless
machines that take credit/debit cards. One-trip or multiple rides can be
Eventually it’s hoped up to 85 percent of the $4.3 million in annual cash
sales collected by train conductors can be eliminated by the use of ticket
Hanas reported signal equipment has been received and is being wired related
to planned construction of NICTD’s $15 million Kensington bypass track and
realignment at the chronic Illinois bottleneck.
Establishing a second parallel route there will help reduce NICTD’s travel
time into Chicago by eliminating holds at the critical intersection through
which 180 commuter and freight trains pass each day. Actual construction is
slated to begin later this year.
NICTD board members comprised of elected officials from Lake, Porter,
LaPorte and St. Joseph counties adopted a goal to award 10 percent of its
contracts for federal fiscal years 2011-13 to businesses owned by certain
races, nationalities and women.
It was reported 10.4 percent of the NICTD contracts in 2009 went to
Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) companies. NICTD must participate in
the DBE program to maintain its eligibility for federal funds.
NICTD chairman LaPorte County Councilman Mark Yagelski said NICTD purchases
a wide variety of goods and services and he encouraged DBE companies to
apply. “We’ll walk you through the process.”