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Cartoon animals, activity passport part of South Shore Line's next marketing campaign

South Shore Line

The South Shore Line plans to introduce cartoon animals and an activity passport to its marketing efforts, to try to get families with young kids to take the train to Chicago.

"Long story short, it's kind of like you have a passport. You get a stamp when you do certain things. There's a corresponding story and stuffed animals that are sent to kids when they ride their first time. So a lot of fun coming for families and children," Nicole Barker with the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District told the NICTD board last week

This comes as the railroad is reporting a decrease in weekend ridership, after it surged earlier in the pandemic recovery. NICTD's Kelly Wenger blames that on the busing caused by Double Track construction.

"It's a lot for discretionary riders who aren't as familiar with our line to feel that comfort level getting on and off buses and trains," Wenger told board members.

Weekday peak ridership is now seeing the strongest gains, with monthly pass sales also going up. That indicates more people are going back to the office more frequently.

As recently as last Monday's board meeting, NICTD planned to end its buy-one-get-one-free deal for monthly passes at the end of the year. But the railroad reversed course a few days later — notifying passengers that it would continue the promotion through June of 2024, when Double Track construction will be complete.