Terminals in the News
We are restarting our "Terminals in the News" posting in October 2019 as part of our celebration of the 5th anniversary of the Terminal Town Festival. Check back on October 1, 2019 for updates on the latest news, including two new Amtrak routes from Chicago slated to begin by 20201 and major developments at O'Hare!
In the meantime, check out these earlier postings. We think you’ll find it all interminably interesting!
April 17, 2019
Behind the Scenes at Union Station with Fred Ash
Congratulations to our friend Fred Ash for the publication of his fascinating book Chicago Union Station, published by Indiana University Press. This attractive is the definitive volume on this fascinating Mid-American terminal. Readers will find original insights on the enormous scale of its construction and the huge workforce supporting train operations. Today, Union Station remains one of America’s great rail connecting points. Click here for the publisher’s website.
April 10, 2018
Good news! Brand New South Side Station for Greyhound and the CTA
The most notable new transit terminal facility in at least a decade is now–at least partially–up and running! The southern portion of the CTA’s new 95 Street Station on the Red Line had opened to positive reviews. This facility not only serves transit but–as noted in the Terminal Townvolume–is a stop and connecting point for Greyhound Lines. Check out the Chicago Sun-Times coverage here.
November 1, 2017
Northwest Indiana Commuter Rail Progress gaining momentum
After years of planning, momentum is building for a major expansion to commuter rail service between downtown Chicago to rapidly growing Lake County in northwest Indiana. Plans call for both a new branch linking Hammond to St. Johns, Indiana, and double tracking lengthy portions of the existing South Shore Line routes. You can find a feature on the rise and fall, and impending renaissance, of passenger service on the former "Monon" route to St. Johns, replete with a several photos of trains at Hammond, in the Terminal Town book. Click here for more details.
July 5, 2017
Big Changes in Service to Indianapolis
After a couple of less-than-sterling years, O'Hare is once again booming, in part due to new routes added by both American and United. Rising leisure travel and the remarkable decline in fuel prices since late 2014 are a big part of the story. Today, American announced a new route to Colorado Springs, CO. Much of the growth is also being accommodated by larger jets, such as the new Boeing 737-900s, which United has configured for 179 seats, significantly more than older models. Check out today's coverage here.
April 27, 2017
Big Changes in Service to Indianapolis
For more than a year, Amtrak's Hoosier State, the Chicago-Indianapolis train running four times per week, was operated under contract with the state of Indiana by Iowa Pacific Holdings, a private company. Iowa Pacific took the unusual step of using a "vista dome" car and other refurbished heritage equipment, hearkening back to the era of the streamliners entering service in the 1940's. Starting last month, however, this service is once again being operated by Amtrak. Ridership has been growing due to growing awareness of the convenience of rail travel. For the story, click here.
February 13, 2017
Historic Bus Station Treasure Trove!
Passenger transportation specialist Ross Capon shared with us these rare photos of U.S. intercity bus stations in the 1940s from the Daily Mail, which illustrate the dynamism of scheduled motor coach travel during World War II. Chicago is not featured in these photos, but several striking images from stations in the Windy City by the same photographer, Esther Bubley, are featured in the Terminal Town book!
January 25, 2017
Stars Aligning for Billion Dollar Union Station Upgrade!
After many years of incremental progress, a big leap forward at Union Station - complete with widened platforms, improved access, and an upgraded concourse - appears to be forthcoming. A surprising confluence of political and market forces are making these improvements possible. Read more here.
November 17, 2016
Amtrak "On Track" for Quad Cities Service
Chicago is already America's premier hub for Amtrak connections, and the system is poised to expand. A push is underway to secure funding in Springfield for an Amtrak route from Chicago Union Station to the "Quad Cities" of Moline and Rock Island, IL, and Bettendorf and Davenport, IA. As noted in the Terminal Town book, this was once a route of the Quad Cities Rocket streamliner. Click here for details.
October 1, 2016
Big Ideas for Terminal Redesign at O'Hare
The city of Chicago, after years of focusing primarily on runway improvements at O'Hare, has made known that it is re-thinking terminal design at this global hub. Some of the artist renderings of the possibilities for new terminals suggest that city planners are "thinking big" about both airside facilities as well as enhanced rail service. Check out this Chicago Tribune article with extensive quotes from Terminal Town author Joe Schwieterman.
June 1, 2016
More Optimism at Gary-Chicago Airport
Gary-Chicago International has been without passenger service since 2013, but new reports suggest that optimism is running high due to the strengthening economy and runway improvements made last year. (See our Terminals in the News posting from May 2015 for details on the runway extension). Now, discussions are reportedly underway with at least one carrier for the resumption of scheduled passengers service. Efforts are also underway to install a Customs Facility to allow for international cargo and business flights. Could new service be in the offing? Check out this Chicago Tribune feature for details.
March 29, 2016
Redevelopment of Grand Central Site Finally to Begin?
One of Chicago's "Big Six" passenger train terminals, Grand Central station was built in 1891 at the corner of Harrison and Wells, just south of the Loop. Remembered for it's 16-story clock tower and 500-foot long train shed, the station served long-distance passengers on four carriers to destinations including Duluth, Pittsburgh, and most famously, Washington and Baltimore along the B&O's Capitol Limited service. Already struggling with the lowest ridership and fewest departures of any of the city's six terminals, service at Grand Central ended for good in 1969. The building stood vacant for several months before B&O had it demolished in 1971 in hopes of selling and redeveloping the site.
Although the River City apartment building was completed in 1986, more than 6 acres of land under the former station remain vacant to this day, serving only as a de facto dog park. In November 2015, the city's planning commission approved a massive, 10-year plan to redevelop the area, which call for several highrise buildings, an interior park, shoreline restoration, and a publicly-accessible riverwalk. According to the local development blog, Curbed Chicago, fencing and earth-moving equipment have moved in and construction of the first building, a 30-story residential tower, appears imminent. Read more about the history of this lost architectural treasure in Terminal Town the book!
City Studying Options for Express Trains to O'Hare
Chinatown Bus Service Grows
Little known to many Chicagoans is "Chinatown bus service" to New York City, departing each evening from a stop next to the neighborhood's Red Line station. Service has recently expanded to two daily roundtrips on the busiest travel days, with tickets sold online at GoToBus.com. This expansion is in line with national trends in intercity bus service uncovered by DePaul University's Chaddick Institute in our annual report of the industry. Click here for coverage of our new study in CityLab, or read more about this growing, yet "under the radar" travel option in the Terminal Town book!
Helicopter Service Back in the News
A new charter helicopter service began advertising sightseeing tours from a new heliport near the city's Bridgeport neighborhood this month. The extensive promotion behind it suggests the demand for helicopter flights in Chicago is picking up. Could scheduled helicopter services between downtown and the airports be not far behind? As noted in "Terminal Town," the official book of the Terminal Town festival, such service was last offered in 1976, when Chicago Helicopter Airways ceased flying between Meigs Field, Midway Airport, and O'Hare.
trains from Chicago to the East and South! Among the proposals is a new connection at aptly named Grand Crossing, where the former Pennsylvania Railroad main line passes above the historical Illinois Central - a busy place indeed! We were pleased here at DePaul University to co-host the event with Northwestern University. Click here for coverage in the Chicago Tribune.
For more than a decade, Chicago-Rockford International Airport has enjoyed success serving passengers on small airlines flying to and from distant, leisure destinations, but it has lacked nonstop flights to major business centers in the Northeastern United States since the 1970's. The airport's close proximity to O'Hare, about 60 miles away, makes such business-oriented flights an economically difficult proposition. However, a new airline, Elite Airlines, is now selling tickets at discount prices to Newark Liberty International Airport, for service starting later this month, albeit, with three flights per week. Nearly $50 million investments in aircraft service facilities are also underway. As exemplified by its name, Chicago-Rockford puts considerable emphasis on serving residents and businesses in the Windy City area.
Travelers at LaSalle Street Station, the busy Metra facility on the site of the historic depot shared by the New York Central System, Nickel Plate Road, and Rock Island Lines, are beneficiaries of the most significant service improvement in years. Metra has launched weekend express trains that cut about 20 minutes from the schedule for those to Blue Island and beyond! Click here for local news coverage. A film clip, showing the 20th Century Limited at LaSalle Street from Alfred Hitchcock's 1959 classic North by Northwest, can be enjoyed in the Exhibits tab or by clicking here.
The redevelopment of Joliet's historic Beaux-Arts landmark Union Station into a commercial center is currently stalled. The project, part of the city's Gateway Transportation Center project, that will unify passenger rail service in downtown Joliet, which sits about 40 miles southwest of Chicago, remains a priority for the city, but high bid costs from private construction companies and the uncertain status of state funding for the project are current hurdles. Click here for more coverage of this exciting project, which aims to simultaneously improve commuter and passenger rail in the southwest suburbs as well as breath new life into one of the area's most historic transportation terminals.
An important chapter in the Chicago region's struggle for additional airport capacity is the on-and-off cycle of scheduled service from Gary-Chicago Airport, which has now lacked scheduled passenger service since August, 2013. An effort to extend the main runway, which required relocating two major railroad lines, however, promises to make Gary much more attractive for passenger service, allowing for improved all-weather flight operations. Check out this breaking news.
An entirely new terminal facility near downtown catering heavily to passengers from outside Chicagoland has opened. The Illinois Medical District Vertiport (advanced heliport) fills a gap in the downtown helicopter business since the closure of Meigs Field. The Vertiport will allow executives to save more than an hour instead of taking cabs or limos during peak periods. Check out this Chicago Business Journal article.
December 10, 2014
More than 30 years after the last passenger boarded a train at Englewood Union Station, dozens of officials gathered at the bygone's station's site for an important ceremony: the opening of the much anticipated "Englewood Flyer." This improvement allows Metra's Rock Island District trains to cross those on the former Pennsylvania Lines (now Norfork Southern) on a bridge, eliminating a notorious bottleneck. Englewood Union Station was once a busy junction serving the New York Central, Pennsylvania Railroad, Rock Island Lines and the Nickle Plate Road. Virtually nothing of the station remains today, but it remains a busy railroad junction. Click here for a Southtown Star article by Mike Nolan from October 23, 2014.
October 20, 2014
Does O'Hare need new terminal space?With new runways now in place at ORD, attention is again turning to the airport's passenger facilities. This Chicago Tribune editorial draws attention to the proposed "Western Terminal."
September 22, 2014
Momentum builds for improvements to Chicago Union Station, including efforts to enhance the character of the historic “headhouse building,” which is the home of the iconic Great Hall. Click here for a Chicago Tribune story by Richard Wronski.
September 15, 2014
The State of Illinois remains persistent in acquiring land for the South Suburban Airportnear Peotone, Illinois, even if this means using its power to condemn land. Click here for Crain’s Chicago Business coverage by Paul Merrion.
Midway Airport, despite having such confined spaces, announces the opening of a new “yoga room” for travelers. The addition of this amenity shows how the city’s airports are evolving from mere transportation facilities to diversified commercial centers offering a vast array of services. O’Hare Airport has been aptly described as an “aerotropolis” by writers John Kasarda and Grey Lindsay. Click here for a Chicago Tribune story by Richard Webner.
Check back next month for more news about Chicago’s terminals!
This is the spot for the latest news about Chicago’s magnificent system of air, bus and rail terminals. Visit this page regularly for breaking news. We think you’ll find it all interminably interesting!