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Joliet airport shuttle lot moves from mall to downtown

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Updated: September 23, 2013 2:36PM



JOLIET — City Manager Tom Thanas had been envisioning a day when people could travel anywhere in the world from Union Station in downtown Joliet.

That day has come. Peoria Charter Coach on Aug. 19 shifted its pickup point for five daily airport shuttles from a parking lot at the Louis Joliet Mall to a parking lot south of Union Station, which is being transformed into a $52 million multimodal transportation center.

The buses will take customers to and from Midway and O’Hare International airports. The buses also will transport people south to Pontiac, Normal and Peoria. Tickets for the shuttles are $26 and can be bought online using a credit card at www.peoriacharter.com or from charter bus drivers, who take only cash.

“The reason for the move is the customer demand for overnight parking,” said Bill Winkler, president of Peoria Charter Coach Co., which has been providing shuttles for the city for the past 20 years.

Joliet’s Union Station, which features Metra trains to Chicago as well as Amtrak service, offers $1 daily parking rates including overnight, long-term parking at the same rate, Thanas said.

Parking payments can be made with cash or credit card at the new parking lot at the intersection of South Chicago Street and West Marion Street, just south of the elevated railroad tracks by Union Station and east of the Will County jail.

Thanas said the city is in the process of bidding out security at the 400-space parking lot and other lots in and around Union Station. The system will include surveillance cameras tied into a police substation at Union Station as well as emergency call boxes.

By adding the airport shuttle bus service, Union Station is on its way to becoming multimodal, and it validates major investments in the project that were made by the state, city and other agencies and railroad companies, Thanas said.

“What ‘multimodal’ means is multiple forms of transportation all coming into one facility,” he said. “You can pretty much get any place you want to go.”

But it may take a while for people to figure out where the new Peoria Charter Coach pickup point is, bus driver Allen Silzer said Aug. 21 while waiting to take a passenger to Midway Airport.

On Aug. 19, the first day the new lot was used, a man who arrived by taxi said his driver had trouble finding the lot. Also, a semi truck was parked in the spot where the bus needed to park, Silzer said.

Buses go from Joliet to O’Hare, then Midway, then back to O’Hare before returning to Joliet and heading south for stops in Pontiac, Normal and Peoria.

Silzer said the $1 daily parking lot charge in Joliet should be a good draw for passengers.

“Even out in the economy parking lots, it’s like $15 a day,” he said of the Chicago airport parking lot fees.

Silzer had only one passenger on Wednesday. Jimmy Oceguera of Joliet was headed to Midway and a vacation in Mexico. It was his first trip on the Peoria Charter Coach bus.

“With the traffic, gas and parking at the airport, this is convenient,” he said.

Northbound buses headed to the airports leave the Joliet lot at 6 and 9:25 a.m., and 1:30, 5:30 and 8:45 p.m.

Southbound buses that go to central Illinois leave at 9 a.m., and 2:40, 6:45 and 10:30 p.m. and midnight. For more information, visit www.peoriacharter.com or call 800-448-0572.



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