Crystal Lake’s Metra station catering to commuters, Pingree Road, has limited services onsite, but it gets the job done. On the upside, it has tons of parking, a long platform so that commuters don’t have to crowd around just a few cars, and a friendly little cafe inside the waiting room. On the downside, there’s no ticket agent to purchase tickets from or ask questions of, but if you’re a commuter you likely have those things figured out already anyway.
Pingree Road Metra Station
570 Congress Pkwy
Crystal Lake, IL
Opened in 2009, Pingree Road is on the Union Pacific / Northwest (UP-NW) line. You can buy Metra tickets a couple of different ways when you use the Pingree Road station:
- Cash from the conductor on the train, $9.00 if you’re headed to Chicago. Note that you will be charged $5 extra if you purchase a ticket on the train at any stop that has a ticket window, so on your return trip be sure to buy a ticket at the station before you get on the train.
- Online at Metra’s website. Pricing and schedules here, with a 10-ride pass to Chicago costing $85.50 and a monthly pass costing $261.00.
- Some companies also offer commuter benefits, where you can put pretax money aside for commuting costs.
Plenty of trains stop at Pingree Road, especially during the morning and evening commute hours. Check the schedule before you hop on, though, because return trips are spaced an hour apart in the middle of the day and in the evenings. Metra doesn’t have a mobile app of its own, but Android users can try the third-party app Ride Metra. Apple users, sorry, no recommendations for you. The App Store reviews for Metra apps are pretty dismal.
Parking isn’t a worry at Pingree Road Metra Station like it is at Crystal Lake’s Downtown Station, with hundreds of spots in a couple of connected lots. The price is far better than Chicago parking as well: $1.50 a day.
You can pay by:
- Cash at the kiosks at the station building. Bring exact change because the kiosk doesn’t give change.
- At The Morning Grind cafe in the waiting room upstairs on the inbound (to Chicago) platform, they’ll roll your parking cost into whatever food or drink you’d like to purchase (cash or charge). It’s open Monday through Saturday, mornings only.
- CPS Parking offers a discounted monthly pass at $30, online and at 877-717-0004
- Mobile payment available with Parkmobile
Speaking of the Daily Grind, definitely give them a visit. They’re super nice, local, and they’ve got all of your coffee and espresso favorites, blended drinks, snacks, and pastries. With the added convenience of paying for parking there instead of at the dreaded kiosk, it’s something to check out.
I prefer Pingree Road because it’s closer to my house. It’s not quaint like the Downtown Station, but for the 6 a.m. commute, I really don’t care about quaint. Because Pingree is near the end of the line, you get your choice of seats in the morning. That’s a nice way to start the day, instead of being crammed in cheek by jowl. There’s not much traffic getting to morning trains, but in the evening I find it easier to wait in my car in my parking space for 10 minutes for the traffic exiting the parking lot to disperse. There are only two exits, both emptying onto little Congress Parkway, so it can be a little hectic with people trying to get home to enjoy their evenings.
Last word of advice: The audio notification for the Pingree Road stop was recorded at a very quiet volume for some reason. Make sure to listen for the stop ahead so you know yours is next or you’ll end up in Woodstock or McHenry! And yes, I know from experience.