Chicago transit expands service to cut travel times

Posted on September 13, 2012

The Chicago Transit Board approved a wide-ranging plan that will add bus and train service to high-demand routes across the entire city, reducing uncomfortable crowding and helping meet growing ridership demand.

The Crowding Reduction Plan is the equivalent of $16 million in added service to bus and rail routes that are used by more than 76% of Chicago Transit Authority’s (CTA) customers. All of this comes at no additional cost to taxpayers and riders, according to CTA officials.

Beginning in mid-December 2012, the plan will add service to 48 bus routes, including the busiest and most crowded bus routes in the city, during peak times. It will also add 17 rail trips to the Red, Blue, Brown, Purple, Orange and Green lines during weekday rush periods to ease crowding on trains. The Red, Brown and Blue Lines will also see significant increases in weekend service.

The plan will discontinue 12 duplicative or low-ridership routes and discontinue two segments on two routes — nearly every one of which has a nearby transit alternative. The plan will also renegotiate or discontinue nine contracted bus routes that are currently subsidized by the CTA. Savings from these changes will be reinvested into the additional service.

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. Through July 2012, total ridership has risen 3.4% for the year, with rail ridership increasing 5.3% (up 6.6 million rides) and bus ridership up more than 2% (nearly 3.7 million rides).

The plan was developed in partnership with Northwestern University’s Transportation Center, which analyzed ridership and other data to determine the best course for the CTA system.

The board approved the plan following a public hearing on September 4.

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