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South Shore Line officials address passenger complaints during NICTD board meeting

South Shore Line

South Shore Line officials say they're working to smooth out some of the challenges caused by the Double Track project. The work has split the railroad in two, with buses bridging the gap between Gary and Michigan City.

Kelly Wenger with the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District says the railroad hopes to improve on-time performance with its recent schedule change. "So, basically, what we did is we made the schedule meet what was actually happening. These buses just weren't able to get there," Wenger said during Monday's NICTD board meeting.

For example, Wenger said the bus for the "Sunrise Express" train was almost always late arriving at Gary Metro Center, but it timed out perfectly to meet the next train.

But the new schedule has also lengthened the commute for some riders. Chesterton passenger Patricia Scott told the NICTD board that her now-two-hour commute includes 30 minutes sitting in Gary. But she said there have also been times when trains or buses would leave before all passengers — especially those with disabilities — could make the transfer. It was part of a list of complaints Scott brought to the NICTD board, which also included rude conductors, a lack of a response to passengers' concerns and a lack of women on the board.

But one of her biggest concerns was that the lights at the Gary Metro Center parking lot hadn't been working at night. "It is dark. It is a safety issue," Scott said.

NICTD President Mike Noland explained that the station belongs to the city of Gary, which has been experiencing supply chain issues with the lights. "It's not our facility. If it was, it would've been fixed. But we are working with our partners to make sure that that happens. That is very, very important to us," Noland said.

He stressed that NICTD takes safety and accessibility concerns seriously.

Michael Gallenberger is a news reporter and producer that hosts All Things Considered on 89.1 FM | Lakeshore Public Media.