People mover will make it easier to access Joliet’s Amtrak platform

By Wednesday, the “people mover” will be carrying passengers and their luggage up the long ramp to the Amtrak platform in Joliet.

Although it’s called a people mover, the small vehicle is more like a golf cart. It’s been parked recently near the temporary Amtrak ticket office at the northwest corner of Jefferson Street and Art Schultz Drive in the city’s downtown.

But the Amtrak ticket agents have not been able to drive it up the ramp to the platform, said Lisa Dorothy, the city’s civil engineer. Two temporary shelters for Metra commuters had blocked the people mover’s path, she said. But the shelters now have been moved, so the small motorized cart should be available by Wednesday, Dorothy said.

At the end of last year, the Joliet City Council heard several complaints from commuters about the ramp to the temporary Amtrak platform. It was too long and particularly difficult to use in wintertime for the elderly, people with disabilities or people who were traveling with a lot of luggage, they said. For now, the temporary platform only is accessible by a set of stairs or the 216-foot-long ramp.

There are some rules about using the people mover. The only person who can drive it is the Amtrak ticket agent working in the office at the northwest corner of Jefferson Street and Art Schultz Drive, Dorothy said. The ticket agent’s hours are 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily.

Amtrak travelers who want to use the people mover should plan on arriving early at the station, she said. It will take a few minutes for the Amtrak agent to close the ticket window, drive the people mover out of the shed where it is stored and then take the passengers up the ramp.

There are other changes to the Gateway Center, Dorothy said. Amtrak also has hired a security guard who will keep the ticket office open until 11 p.m., Dorothy said. That means Metra and Amtrak riders will be able to wait inside the heated, well-lit trailer until that time.

Additionally, the New Street pedestrian tunnel and the York Street parking lot now are open, Dorothy said. Pedestrians can use the tunnel to walk from the commuter parking lots at Chicago and Marion streets to the train platforms, she said.

For the latest information about changes during the construction of the transportation center, go to www.cityofjoliet.info and click on the tab for the Gateway Center. Travelers also can go to that page to sign up for informational alerts about the Gateway Center to be sent to their Facebook pages or Twitter accounts.

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