CTA Announces Increased Ridership in 2008

January 14, 2009

CTA Has Now Achieved Ridership Increases in 10 of the Past 11 Years

The CTA today announced that 2008 combined bus and rail ridership increased by 26.8 million rides, a gain of 5.4 percent over 2007 ridership, for a total of 526.4 million rides. It is the highest ridership level since 1992 and the highest single year ridership gain in 34 years.
“The slow zone elimination effort, progress of the Brown Line capacity expansion project and adjustments to provide more efficient service have improved our customers’ day-to-day experience on CTA and are directly related to the growth in ridership despite the struggling economy,” said CTA President Ron Huberman. “New buses, and cleaner vehicles and facilities are helping attract new customers and influencing existing customers to ride more.”
“The healthy growth of ridership in 2008 reflects the fact that our commitment to improving transit is being recognized by our customers despite some of the inconveniences that go with making those improvements,” said Chicago Transit Board Chairman Carole Brown. “In the long run we are improving our system for our customers and providing service while that work is underway.”
Ridership increased 4.5 percent on weekdays in 2008, averaging 1.68 million daily boardings. Ridership also increased by 7.3 percent on weekends and holidays, showing that many customers are not only riding CTA for their daily commutes but also for their travel needs outside of traditional working hours.
Bus ridership recorded the largest surge with a total of 328.2 million rides provided for the year, an increase of 18.9 million rides, or 6.1 percent higher compared to 2007. CTA made great strides in improving bus reliability over the past 12 months. Ridership increased more than 12 percent on bus routes where reliability improvements were made. In addition, riders along the north lakefront corridor heavily contributed to the growth in bus ridership as many switched to nearby bus service as an option to avoid the congestion caused by three-track train operation at the Belmont and Fullerton stations.
As a convenient option for riders impacted by three-track operation, the #147 Outer Drive Express saw a 15 percent increase in ridership. With the resumption of four-track service in December at Belmont and Fullerton, CTA expects that some bus riders may migrate back to the rail system this year.
Rail ridership increased by 4.1 percent compared to 2007, recording a total of 198.2 million rides provided for the year, an increase of 7.9 million rides over the previous year. Rail ridership in 2008 was at its highest point since 1968. 
Ridership increased on all eight rail lines in 2008. Contributing to the increased rail ridership for the Blue Line’s Dearborn subway and O’Hare branch was the completion of the slow zone elimination work which allowed trains to return to normal speeds. Slow zone elimination work was also performed on the North branch of the Red Line and on the Brown Line providing customers with faster travel. In addition, renovation work was completed on six Brown Line stations and CTA introduced eight-car train service during morning and evening rush periods which helped to boost ridership numbers. 
The only significant drop in rail ridership was at those stations closest to O’Hare, largely due to the decline in air travel throughout the year. Ridership was slightly down at Midway station however Midway serves as a major connection to bus service.   The Yellow Line reported a 21 percent increase in ridership as a direct result of the addition of weekend service.  Pink Line ridership also continued to grow, increasing by 12 percent over 2007. The Pink Line has almost doubled its ridership in a four year period.
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