Ridership across the Chicago Transit Authority’s (CTA) rail and bus system recently reached its highest levels in more than two years.
Each of the last four weeks has brought a pandemic-era ridership high — bringing the weekday ridership average above 900,000 for the first time since February 2020, according to the CTA. Ridership the week beginning Sept.12 was up 10% from the previous year, reaching more than 5.5 million rides. Both bus and rail ridership that week increased over 2021 levels, 8% and 13%, respectively.
“Transit is vital to our region as we recover from a long pandemic that upended our daily normal. The recent ridership peaks are an important barometer of our crucial role in providing affordable and green transportation to all,” said Dorval R. Carter Jr., CTA president. “The fall season is typically our highest ridership period for the year, and in 2022, that tradition continues. As more riders return to transit, our top focus is providing the most reliable, consistent service possible.”
According to the CTA, in January 2022, CTA averaged a little more than 540,000 rides on weekdays and roughly 14.3 million rides for the month. Since then, CTA’s system-wide ridership has grown across the board, with more than 900,000 daily weekday rides and 22.3 million rides provided so far during the month of September.
Among areas seeing the biggest growth:
- Downtown weekday rail ridership jumped 21% over 2021, with more than 100,000 average weekday rides provided during the week beginning Sept. 12, up from an average of 38,000 on weekdays in January 2021.
- Both a.m. and p.m. rush period ridership continues to grow, with downtown rush ridership on Tuesday through Thursday up about 34%.
K-12 student ridership on CTA averaged 68,000 daily rides on weekdays during the week of Sept. 12, an increase of 6% compared to the same week last year, according to the agency's news release. The CTA added college students enrolled in the U-Pass program also returned to the system in large numbers with average weekday ridership reaching 65,000. This represents a 16% increase over the same week last year.