The Chicago Transit Board unveiled key measures for improving standards of service throughout the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) system. The standards, being changed for the first time in 11 years, provide guidelines for the allocation of resources in the operation of CTA’s buses and trains.
“These new guidelines are necessary to meet the needs of a customer base that is steadily rising and gaining in expectations,” said CTA Chairwoman Valerie B. Jarrett. Increased ridership and higher funding levels have given CTA the opportunity to make appropriate and geographically balanced service improvements on many levels, said Jarrett.
In order to retain current customers and attract new riders, the new standards of service will respond to changes in the population and employment shifts in the service area.
CTA service standards involve five key measures that have the greatest influence on design of services: the distance an average customer travels to reach a bus stop or ‘L’ station, the hours and days a route operates, frequency of service, the level of ridership at the busiest location on a route and the minimum number of customers a CTA vehicle carries per hour.
Some of the changes in the 2001 Service Standards include reductions in walking distance to service during peak hours in the highest density areas from 3/8 to 1/4 mile, and reducing maximum scheduled passenger loads in peak periods on the busiest routes from 70 passengers per bus to 60.
The changes come on the heels of the CTA’s “Traveler Behavior and Attitudes Survey of CTA Riders and Non Riders,” which showed a growing percentage of riders using the system by choice. The extensive survey, consisting of 194 questions, was concerned with the behavior and attitudes of those that rode CTA frequently, occasionally or never.
Results show that 82% of households in Chicago and 38 surrounding suburbs use CTA at least occasionally while 48% use the service regularly. Only 8% of those households interviewed had no experience riding the CTA.
The number of riders using the system by choice, classified as riders with a car available to them, has grown to 68%, up from 51% in 1997. Frequent riders, using CTA five or more days per week, responded that 89% of trips were taken on CTA, up from 77% in 1990.
Respondents rated CTA buses and trains as more economical to use than cars. Non-riders revealed that transit times must be more competitive with automobile travel, be frequent and on time, clean and comfortable and safe from crime, before transit would be a viable travel option for them.
The CTA will use the survey results to identify market segments that represent the greatest potential for increased ridership.