24 May 2017

South Shore begins summer promotions for rail travel

South Shore News

Commuters are the heart of its business, but the South Shore Line also likes to remind people that it offers more than rides to and from jobs in Chicago. "We're starting to increase our outreach to folks in South Bend and Chicago who want to spend some time in Northwest Indiana," said John Parsons, the railroad's vice president of planning and marketing. A free shuttle bus service between the South Shore's Miller station and the beaches in Gary's Miller section will begin on Saturday and continue on weekends through the summer. Also this summer, the railroad will promote Northwest Indiana as a camping destination for people from Chicago, and baseball fans can get half-price tickets to Gary South Shore RailCats home games.

"Northwest Indiana has some amazing beaches," Parsons said in a news release, "and this shuttle provides people from Chicago to South Bend a convenient way to enjoy an escape right in their own back yard." The South Shore half-price ticket discount at RailCats home games is new this year. To get it, a RailCats ticket buyer must show his or her South Shore ticket stub or the purchase history on their South Shore Line mobile app. The first RailCats home game is May 26.

The South Shore is a RailCats sponsor this year, Parsons said, and drink cups at the Steel Yard will display the South Shore logo. South Shore trains going to and from the downtown Gary station are visible from the baseball park's stands. "We have a rolling billboard out there, so we might as well use it," Parsons said. The South Shore also is promoting backpacking trips to Northwest Indiana with the REI outdoor-recreation store in Chicago's Lincoln Park section.

Campgrounds in Indiana Dunes State Park and Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore are within walking distance of the South Shore's Dune Park and Beverly Shores stations, respectively, Parsons noted, and the South Shore offers a way to get there without driving a car. And for the second year, the South Shore provides a way for bike riders to take their bicycles along with them on weekend trains and some weekday trains from April 1 to Oct. 31. Good weather on weekends has helped boost the bike ridership, Parsons said, and the railroad has been encouraged by the number of weekday bike riders. "We believe it will grow as more and more people learn you can take a bike on the train," Parsons said.

The South Shore schedule – a new one comes out July 1 – indicates which trains are available for bikes. For riders from Northwest Indiana, the biggest limitation has been the few stations that have raised platforms that allow them to roll their bikes onto trains, which means bikes-on-trains is available in Northwest Indiana only from the Dune Park, East Chicago and Hammond stations. If the South Shore gets a federal grant to build another set of tracks between Gary and Michigan City, however, raised platforms at the Miller, Portage/Ogden Dunes and Michigan City stations are part of the project.

Read full Post Tribune article from Tim Zorn here.