DeKALB – Those wishing to take the Metra commuter train from Elburn into Chicago can soon park for free in downtown DeKalb before taking a bus to board the train.
The city of DeKalb unveiled its new parking plans Wednesday, the latest in a plan to spur more Metra users and accommodate travelers as the city digs deeper into whether a Metra station is feasible in DeKalb, according to a news release.
The program, dubbed “Park and Ride” by the city, is for riders using the Elburn Metra Station Route 12 from the city’s transit system.
The city’s Frost lot at East Locust Street between North Sixth and North Seventh streets will be dedicated to commuters wishing to leave their car behind, at no parking cost, to take the bus to Elburn and hop on the train from there.
The feature will go into effect March 20, according to the release.
“Park your car and leave the driving to us,” DeKalb Public Assistant Transit Manager Brian Van Hine said in a news release.
As part of a way of gauging the public’s interest in a commuter rail service, the city recently announced that it is increasing the frequency of bus trips to the Elburn Metra station during regular service runs Monday through Friday.
The morning trips will increase from two to five trips, and the evening trips will increase from one to three trips. On Saturday and Sunday, however, the regular service run will not change but the times may have been adjusted.
The fare for that route, Route 12, will also be lowered as of March 20, officials said.
Riders on the Route 12 to Elburn can pay 50 cents – for the general public, down from $4 – for a trip. Northern Illinois University NIU ONE card holders soon will ride for free, a decrease from its former 50 cents fare.
In January, the DeKalb City Council approved a $98,379 contract to Chicago-based firm Sam Schwartz Consulting LLC to compile a comprehensive public transportation study of possible Metra connections in town.
The project wiill be conducted in phases, with participation from local and regional public officials.
Northern Illinois University is the only state university community in Illinois that does not have a commuter rail stop.
The study will allow the city take a close look at potential ridership needs, current transportation options, environmental impact and how much it would take to bring a commuter rail service to DeKalb.
City officials have recently vocalized strong support for a commuter train in DeKalb, with Mayor Cohen Barnes saying a Metra connection would allow the NIU and greater DeKalb community to flourish.
Daily Chronicle Megann Horstead contributed.