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South Shore Line hopes holiday gift-giving will boost ticket sales


South Shore Line officials hope holiday gift-giving will help boost ticket sales. Nicole Barker with the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District (NICTD) says the railroad's latest marketing push encourages people to give 25-ride tickets as stocking stuffers.

"To inspire people to purchase these, we're going to start posting a lot of events [in] downtown Chicago and elsewhere, to spark ideas for families and friends to go travel and enjoy the magic of the holidays," Barker told the NICTD board last week.

It's one of a number of efforts commuter railroads are using to encourage riders to return, after the COVID-19 pandemic. NICTD President Mike Noland noted that the South Shore has been offering two monthly passes for the price of one.

"Discounted tickets are what everyone's doing around the country, and we've talked about, at some point in time, we're going to have to pull back on that. So, that's going to be a headwind," Noland told board members.

The South Shore Line is seeing a faster return of off-peak and weekend riders, as large employers have been slow to require workers to return to the office. But during last week's NICTD board meeting, board president and Indiana Department of Transportation Commissioner Mike Smith urged staff not to give up on those traditional commuters, either, saying he'd like to see more passengers move back from 10-ride to monthly tickets.

The South Shore Line will have a clearer picture of its ridership, as officials analyze the results of a November 9 passenger count.