Empty Metra lots show a stark reality of pandemic

Empty suburban train station parking lots display the stark reality of the COVID-19 pandemic's effect on Metra's ridership.

When passing the parking lots in Glenview, The Glen/North Glenview and Northbrook, I can't help but notice how empty the parking lots are. Since March, many people are either working from home or using other modes of transportation while, sadly, others have lost their jobs entirely.

A recent story by Daily Herald colleague Marni Pyke states that Metra's ridership is down 90 percent since the start of the pandemic, and she details the commuter rail agency's efforts to clean and sanitize its passenger car fleet in the interest of safety.

Last week, I took an aerial photo of outbound Metra Milwaukee District North Line train number 2121 departing The Glen at 3:17 p.m. Two parking lots on either side of the tracks have the capacity for more than 750 vehicles, and with the exception of a half-dozen or so spots being used by construction workers building a nearby warehouse, I was able to count just 25 cars.

I wanted the station to be fairly prominent in the photo, so it should be noted that a small portion of the lot is excluded from the photo, and there were a few more cars present. On the other hand, there are two more commuter lots west of Lehigh Avenue with a combined capacity for more than 400 vehicles.

A regular commuter to whom I spoke recently told me that the lots nearest the station were nearly full prior to the pandemic. Now the station is surrounded by a wide expanse of bare concrete.

Hopefully, for the sake of Metra and all of the people and businesses affected by the coronavirus, a vaccine or a cure will be found soon and we can return to life much as it was before the pandemic.

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