(CBS) — It took the Cubs 108 years to win the World Series. Fans who attended Friday’s parade and lunchtime rally were able to get home far more quickly, although it may not have seemed that way at times.
Jaws dropped as fans and regular Friday commuters arrived at Union Station between 2:30 and 4 p.m., cascading like a sea of blue down the main staircase into the Great Hall with virtually no place to go.
By 5 p.m., the crowds were gone and Union Station’s Great Hall, if anything, looked emptier than usual.
Metra CEO Don Orseno says the plan Metra and Amtrak prepared for the Cubs celebration was a success.
“I’ve been around the railroad for 42 years,” he said. “This is the largest crowd I’ve ever seen in Chicago.”
As is the case with most downtown Chicago special events, Metra crafted a special schedule. Orseno said express trains to outlying terminals were largely left intact while local trains serving intermediate stations were dispatched in many cases in a load-and-go manner.
Metra used every locomotive, coach and train crew that was available. It was not enough to prevent delays for many riders mid-afternoon, although Orseno said the crowding was far shorter in duration than during similar events in recent years.
Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari says the plan worked, despite being notified only 24 hours ahead of time that the parade and rally would take place Friday. He would have preferred more leeway.
The city said it moved the parade and rally to Friday at the request of the ball club, because of Major League Baseball meetings scheduled to begin Monday.
The Cubs won the World Series on Wednesday evening.