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Metra lines offering free rides all weekend

Commuters at the La Grange Road Metra station try to stay warm ahead of the polar vortex Jan. 29.
Commuters at the La Grange Road Metra station try to stay warm ahead of the polar vortex Jan. 29.

For the first time in its history, Metra will offer free rides on every line for an entire weekend – this Saturday and Sunday – in an effort to boost weekend ridership and give its riders a pat on the back for coping with the recent extreme cold.

“We survived the polar vortex – now let’s have some fun,” Metra CEO/Executive Director Jim Derwinski said. “There is a lot to do in Chicago and the suburbs, and Metra can take you there. We’re hoping this weekend will convince people who have never ridden Metra or who haven’t ridden Metra in a while to become paid customers in the future.”

In addition to the free weekend, Metra will offer its popular Family Fares on Monday, when many schools will be out for Presidents Day. Family Fares days allow up to three children ages 11 and younger to ride free with an adult.

There always is a lot happening on weekends in Chicago, even in the winter. For instance, it’s the final weekend of the Chicago Auto Show, and Metra is offering new express service from Blue Island to McCormick Place this year. Rock Island Line riders can transfer to waiting trains on the Blue Island branch of the Metra Electric Line, which will bring them directly to the automobile extravaganza. Others can park at the Blue Island station and board the express trains. Parking is free. For information, visit metrarail.com.

Chicago’s world-class museums also are possible destinations – the Field Museum is free for Illinois residents in February, or visit the Shedd Aquarium and Adler Planetarium, both of which are free for Illinois residents Monday.

Go for a skate at the Maggie Daley Park skating ribbon, explore the Museum of Science and Industry in Hyde Park or spend a day at The Art Institute of Chicago. Enjoy area theaters, shopping and restaurants.

There’s plenty to do in the suburbs, too. Metra can take you to the Brookfield Zoo in Brookfield, the DuPage Children’s Museum in Naperville, the Elmhurst Art Museum, Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio in Oak Park and the Kohl Children’s Museum in Glenview, to name a few.

Metra is one of the largest and most complex commuter rail systems in North America, serving Cook, DuPage, Will, Lake, Kane and McHenry counties in northeastern Illinois.

The agency provides services to and from downtown Chicago with 242 stations over 11 routes totaling about 500 route miles and 1,200 miles of track.

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