On my weekly commutes to SW Michigan along the Chicago Skyway I have noticed the METRA commuter railway continues into Indiana. With the rush to build a similar line to Milwaukee, the significance of this rail line struck me. As usual, Milwaukee isn't being original. This time the city is trying to keep up with that boomtown of the Midwest - Gary, Indiana.
A little research showed that this isn't METRA, it is the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District rail line. The entire system route map is here - NICTD System Map
A comparison of the routes shows that Gary is close to the equivalent distance of Kenosha from downtown Chicago, while Milwaukee is a similar distance as South Bend. In addition, Amtrak runs trains from both South Bend and Milwaukee to Union Station, although the Milwaukee trains run much more frequently. A ridership comparison of these Indiana routes should provide some useful information for projecting ridership on the El-trains to Milwaukee.
Overall ridership on NICTD is booming, surpassing 4 million passengers in 2006. The Milwaukee commuter rail proponents should be embracing these numbers for projecting use of their rail line extension. Where are the projections?
I'll keep looking. Something tells me the South Bend to Gary route isn't the bulk of those 4 million riders.