The CTA today announced that 2005 combined bus and rail ridership levels reached the highest point since 1992. CTA provided 492,405,118 rides in 2005, an increase of 17,454,157 rides, or 3.7 percent, over 2004. Gains were especially evident on the CTA's rail system which recorded its highest ridership since 1985. CTA has now achieved ridership increases in seven of the past eight years.
Although CTA started 2005 with the potential for significant service cuts, layoffs and a fare increase due to insufficient funding, customers continued their support for public transit by increasing their ridership. The CTA's bus and rail systems both experienced ridership gains on weekdays and weekends. The CTA's rail system recorded 155 million station entries and another 31.8 million rail-to-rail transfers, for a total of 186.8 million rail boardings for the year, an increase of 4.5 percent over 2004. The bus system provided 303.2 million rides in 2005, an increase of 9.2 million or 3.1 percent over 2004. The most notable growth on the system for 2005 was on Sundays, a 6.7 percent increase compared to 2004.
"The growth in 2005 ridership shows that more customers are choosing the CTA for discretionary trips as well as their workday commutes, which reflects the important around-the-clock nature of the service we provide and sends a clear message that there is a real demand for public transit in the city and the suburbs," said CTA President Frank Kruesi. ?The healthy growth of ridership in 2005 reflects the fact that our customers know a good value when they see it and is a testament to the hard work of each employee to provide quality service despite the atmosphere of uncertain funding."
?We continue to dedicate our efforts to improving our service and neighborhood facilities for customers, the most important elements in maintaining and growing ridership," said Chicago Transit Board Chairman Carole Brown. ?Although this past year presented many challenges, the growth in ridership shows that our efforts on behalf of our customers are paying off."
CTA achieved a major milestone in 2005 by making all of its buses in the fleet accessible to people with disabilities. Every bus in service on all 150 of CTA's bus routes is now equipped with a ramp or a hydraulic lift. These features, along with low floor and kneeling buses, make it easier for senior citizens and people with disabilities to board CTA buses.
Also in 2005, CTA successfully completed the rehabilitation of the 54th/Cermak branch of the Blue Line, ahead of schedule and nearly $1 million under budget. The $482 million renovation provided customers with eight newly renovated, fully accessible stations, a faster, smoother ride and uninterrupted service throughout three years of construction. In addition, weekend service along the line was provided for the first time since 1998.
As part of the CTA's ongoing effort to increase safety and security on its rail system, in September, security cameras at all 11 stations on the 54th/Cermak branch were the first to connect to the CTA's Control Center where both live and recorded images can be viewed.
Significant progress was also made this year on the Brown Line Capacity Expansion Project. Lengthening platforms to accommodate eight-car trains means that when the project is completed every train will be able to accommodate many more people. In addition, stations will be renovated and made accessible to people with disabilities as part of CTA's ongoing commitment to have an accessible system.
Work also continues to improve power delivery and reliability on the Dan Ryan branch of the Red Line. In addition, station upgrades, escalator replacement, new elevators at two stations and improved bus connections are included in the project which remains on time and on budget.
Early in the year CTA expanded the availability of Chicago Cards to retail outlets including Currency Exchanges, Jewel/Osco and Dominick's, and ended the year by launching a pilot that allows customers to reload Chicago Cards at 65 Currency Exchanges throughout the service area.# # #