On the Spot

By Claire O’Malley 

Every Saturday, I take the train to get to The Second City in Old Town to rehearse and then perform in their youth ensemble. I have to be there at 4 p.m., and every weekend I’m faced with the decision: do I arrive two hours early or 15 minutes late? Because I really can’t be late, I choose to be two hours early. I spend these hours doing my homework or working on sketches I am writing for rehearsal later, but why should I have to choose?  

I guess we are lucky to have the Metra. Without it, we would have no commuter train transportation downtown. However, if you are trying to travel outside of the commuter rush hours, there are very few options to get you to the city.  

My older sister, who goes to school downtown, takes the train almost every day. There are considerably more options on the weekdays, with trains coming every 15 to 30 minutes for the morning commute, and leaving LaSalle Street Station just as frequently in the afternoon and evening. So the train schedule works well for teenagers who don’t have after school activities. But after 6 p.m., the trains go from leaving every 20 minutes to every other hour. This means if practice is over at 6 p.m., kids have to take an 8 p.m. train or find another way back to the neighborhood. It can be pretty inconvenient. Luckily, on Saturdays, I only take the train one way and my parents pick me up. 

When I want to see my friends who live in other parts of the city, it’s the same issue. It would be more helpful if the Metra trains ran like 30 minutes on weekdays and weekends and then every hour when it’s later in the day. Most teenagers aren’t old enough to drive and even the ones that are don’t always have a car to use whenever they want. Traffic, parking and parking tickets also make driving to the city a terrible choice. There’s so much to see and do in the city and it would be great if it was easier for teens to get there on public transportation.  

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