In a major initiative to reduce uncomfortable crowding and meet growing ridership, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) is adding bus and train service to high-demand routes across the entire CTA network.
The additions to service will reduce the time between trains and buses and lower peak crowd loads by 10% to 15% in most cases. Through the first half of 2012, CTA's ridership growth was higher than nearly every other major U.S. transit system. The rail ridership increase was especially high at 6.2% — placing CTA’s growth second among major U.S. transit agencies. Bus ridership also showed a jump of more than 3.9 million riders, up 2.6% for the year.
Working in concert with Northwestern University’s Transportation Center (NUTC), the CTA has developed a comprehensive plan to restructure its routes and schedules based on changing ridership patterns. In addition, the CTA has proposed discontinuing a small number of routes that duplicate existing service or that have extremely low ridership. It is adding service to some areas and beefing up service where demand has outstripped the traditional allocation of buses and trains. The result is the equivalent of $16 million in added service at no cost whatsoever to taxpayers.
In 2011, CTA engaged the services of the NUTC to evaluate its system. The Center analyzed CTA’s service, using CTA data on ridership numbers, ridership patterns and route configurations, as well as the availability of other transit options, to maximize service quality.
The initiative to reduce crowding and meet increased ridership demand is the latest in a series of management improvements the CTA has launched since May 2011. Efforts to increase investment in system improvements and reduce inefficiencies, among others, are intended to improve service and the customer experience for CTA riders.