Bright lights, big station

The big switch came May 30. The next morning you could see it in the commuters’ faces. As they stepped off trains that just the day before had made their official Hyde Park transfer stop at the 59th Street station, the Metra Electric and South Shore commuters—a usually somber lot—were pleasantly surprised by the bright 57th Street station.

In contrast to the dingy, graffiti-marred, and sometimes malodorous 59th Street location, the new station meets with approval from the 500-plus weekday rail riders who board Metra Electric and South Shore lines in Hyde Park. “It’s so clean,” says Renette Davis, a Metra rider and the head of Regenstein Library’s serials & digital resources cataloging. “And it’s quicker to get to work too.” The more centrally located station also features amenities such as elevators for handicapped passengers.

Input from a series of community meetings helped drive the transfer point’s switch to the 57th Street station. Funded by Metra, the Federal Transit Administration, and the Illinois Department of Transportation, the stop has only some minor work—punch-list items—yet to be completed, according to Metra spokesman Dan Schnolis.

Not only passengers appreciate the upgrade in surroundings. “I love it. It’s such a change,” says ticket agent Launie Rae Scognamiglio, a 31-year Metra employee who transferred from the 59th Street station. “I actually get sunlight now. My plants are thriving.”


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Photos by Joy Olivia Miller.

August 13, 2004