Metra saw the largest year-over-year ridership increase at 37%, providing more than 32 million rides as it worked toward a new regional rail vision.  -  Photo: Metra

Metra saw the largest year-over-year ridership increase at 37%, providing more than 32 million rides as it worked toward a new regional rail vision.

Photo: Metra

The Chicago region’s fixed-route system finished out the year with a total of 326.6 million rides, marking the first time since the pandemic that ridership cracked 300 million, according to CTA, Metra, and Pace data.

In total, the region’s transit agencies added 45 million rides in 2023 compared to the previous year, representing an increase equal to the annual transit ridership of Dallas, the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) said in a press release.

Increasing Ridership in The Region

Transit riders took more rides on all days of the week in 2023 compared to 2022, with Sundays having the largest percentage increase and Wednesdays seeing the most overall rides.

Daily ridership exceeded one million on 178 days last year, an increase from just 60 days that saw that threshold reached in 2022. RTA’s recently approved 2024 regional transit budget ensures service can meet the growing demand this year.

Earlier this week, the CTA reported in 2023 the agency provided 117.4 million rides, an increase of 13%.

CTA buses provided 161.7 million rides, a year-over-year increase of 15%, bringing overall CTA ridership for 2023 to 279.1 million, a systemwide increase of 14%.

Metra and Pace Growing Too

Metra saw the largest year-over-year ridership increase at 37%, providing more than 32 million rides as it worked toward a new regional rail vision. The vision calls for providing more consistent, predictable service outside of peak work commute times.

In 2023, Pace buses provided 14.8 million rides, an increase over 2022 of 10%.

“As riders continue to return to our transit system, we are committed to investing in their experience and building a coalition of transit supporters to avoid the fiscal cliff in 2026,” said RTA Executive Director Leanne Redden. “Additionally, Service Boards’ efforts are clearly paying off as we continue to see significant ridership gains each year since the pandemic hit. We anticipate these gains will continue in 2024, and RTA will continue to collaborate with CTA, Metra, and Pace as they invest in bus and train operators, ramp up cleanliness and safety investments, make fares more seamless and affordable, and other improvements to the rider experience.”

For the RTA's ridership data, click here.

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