Indiana Commuter Transportation District is planning to implement a pilot
program next spring to remodel and equip three of its older rail cars on the
South Shore Line with a new type of bicycle racks.
At Friday’s board
meeting, NICTD General Manager Mike Noland demonstrated how the racks would
work by supporting the bike tire and keeping it in place. The manufacturer
is the Seattle-based Sportworks, similar those recently installed on Amtrak
cars and the RTD which take up less space than traditional racks. Noland
said NICTD is working with Sportsworks on the final design.
“This is new
territory for us. It’s a new event,” he said.
Noland, the pilot program, which he guesses will start in April, will run on
two of the cars in its normal train schedule, just on the weekends. The cars
will run from Chicago to South Bend as normal, but stop only at stations
with high level platforms so passengers can load their bikes safely and
The cars with the
racks will have a 3-2 seating arrangement and passengers will be able to sit
close to where they store their bikes. Each car will carry 25 to 30 bikes.
Each unit costs $500 to $600 but total installation costs are unknown at
this time, said Noland.
NICTD currently has
a “no bike rule” which, according to its website FAQ page is “for safety
reasons and storage constraints.” Passengers going to Chicago are encouraged
to look for bike rental companies once they get there.
that the South Shore cars are designed “to carry people and nothing more,”
unlike the cars on the Chicago Metra that have some space suitable for
bicycles on South Shore trains has been heard for years from groups like
Save the Dunes. NICTD and an advisory committee made up a different
organizations recently did a public survey to gain the public’s perspective,
which showed a growing desire for the service.
“We knew from our
survey that there is a demand,” Noland said.
Hearing input about
how much the public would like to bring their bikes, NICTD hopes in about
five years or so to line up new cars that would have room for about 90
NICTD Board member
and Lake County Commissioner Michael Repay said he appreciates all the work
by the committee, but “there will be bugs worked out like everything else.”
Board president and
Porter County Commissioner John Evans expressed confidence in the project
saying “it’s really a marvelous thing to do.” He believes bikes will be
popular but advised there will still be critics. “You’ll probably have
people complain about the color,” he joked.
John Parsons reported June’s ridership topped last year’s by 3.7 percent
with 333,365 passengers. About 22,000 of those rode on June 18 for the
Chicago Blackhawks Stanley Cup celebration.
ridership this year is 1.2 percent higher than 2014, but ridership has
dropped on average over the weekends. June saw an on-time performance rate
of 87.7, but it was affected by work projects and delays on the Metra.
events are the Chicago Air and Water Show on Aug. 15-16, the Jazz Festival
on Sept. 3-6 and Notre Dame football dates.
passengers are using the mobile phone app to purchase tickets this year, up
from 2,344 in 2014 to 46,990. Vending machine sales are about the same while
fewer riders are buying from ticket agents and conductors.
In other business,
the board approved several bid recommendations from the NICTD staff,
including $212,240 in upgrades and improvements to the Dunes Park station.
Larson-Danielson Construction of LaPorte will remodel the bathrooms in the
station and administrative offices, along with ramp replacement on the north
-- A bid of
$258,516 from Shaner Industries for Phase 3 continuation of the Catenary
Upgrade Project between Michigan City and South Bend.
-- A bid of
$562,253 from Bach-Simpson to upgrade 43 event recording units on the NICTD
fleet to make them compatible with the upcoming Positive Train Control
project required by the Federal Railroad Administration.
-- A bid from
Impark for the parking lot lease at Hegewisch Station in the amount of
$175,000 to be paid to the district, or $35,000 annually over 5 years.