Currently, Metra is the only commuter rail provider operating in Wisconsin. Metra, officially the Northeast Illinois Regional Commuter Railroad Corporation, is a commuter rail system serving Chicago and its surrounding suburbs. The system serves over 100 communities with 239 stations on 11 lines. Metra provides one stop in Wisconsin, with its Union Pacific North Line terminating in Kenosha. The line provides service between Kenosha and downtown Chicago, with nine weekday departures from Kenosha; five departures on Saturdays and three departures on Sundays. In addition to commuter rail, the Kenosha Metra station is served by local transit and regional commuter bus service. In 2010, average weekday ridership on the Union Pacific North Line was 36,400, while overall Metra average weekday ridership was 301,200. Annual Metra system passenger trips totaled 81,369,000. A 2006 boarding and alighting survey showed the Kenosha station had over 400 boardings on week days. This was an increase of more than 25 percent from 2002. The 2006 survey showed that of those boarding:
• 61 percent drove alone
• 16 percent were dropped off
• 11 percent carpooled
• 6 percent walked
The survey also revealed that two percent or fewer of those boarding Metra trains used transit, taxi, bike or other modes to access the station.
In addition to the Kenosha station, four other Metra commuter rail stations are located near the Wisconsin border:
• Antioch, Illinois – North Central service line
• Fox Lake, Illinois – Milwaukee District North line
• Harvard, Illinois – Union Pacific Northwest line
• McHenry, Illinois – Union Pacific Northwest line
The 2006 Metra passenger survey revealed that many riders from southeastern Wisconsin used the Kenosha station, as well as other Metra stations located in Antioch, Fox Lake, Harvard and McHenry, Illinois. The largest number of riders originated in Kenosha, followed by Racine, Pleasant Prairie and Lake Geneva.
The Southeast Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission Year 2035 Regional Transportation Plan also identified three additional commuter rail lines to be considered in corridor studies:
• Oconomowoc to Milwaukee
• West Bend to Milwaukee
• Saukville to Milwaukee
The Year 2035 Regional Transportation Plan recommended that initial rapid transit service be provided along these corridors using buses. The plan envisions eventually transitioning the bus service to commuter rail service.