CTA Board approves new Service Standards

September 5, 2001

The Chicago Transit Authority Board has approved the new service standards throughout the CTA system. The standards, which are being changed for the first time in 11 years, provide guidelines for the allocation of resources in the operation of the CTA's buses and trains.

The purpose of the standards is to ensure that service meets CTA customers' needs, and that it is provided in a cost-effective manner. Changes are necessary as markets, customer expectations and CTA resources change over time. When the standards were established in 1990, ridership was in decline and the CTA faced challenges very different from today.

Service levels are affected by population and employment shifts in the service area, and service standards must be responsive to these changes in order to retain current customers and attract new riders. The standards are guided by the CTA's mission to deliver quality, affordable transit services that link people, jobs and communities.

CTA Service Standards use five key measures that have the greatest influence on the way services are designed: 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 number of customers a CTA vehicle carries per hour.

Among the changes in the core 2001 Service Standards, compared to 1990, are reductions in the walking distance to service during peak hours in high density areas from 3/8 to 1/4 mile, and the requirement that 46 "key" bus routes have a minimum of 16 hours of service per day vs. having the length of service on all routes justified by demand. Another change would reduce the maximum scheduled passenger loads in peak periods on the busiest routes from 70 passengers per bus to 60.

Click the following link to view full text of the 2001 CTA Service Standards (57 pages, 0.7 MB .PDF).

A Comparative Summary of the 2001 Service Standards and the 1990 Service Standards can be viewed below:


"Core" Design Standards
Standard 1990 Document 2001 Document
Service Coverage 3/8 mile walking distance in peak, 1/2 mile distance in off-peak, and 1 mile in owl. 1/4 mile walking distance in peak for high density zones and 1/2 mile for low density zones, 1/2 mile in off-peak and weekends, and 1 mile in owl (where offered).
Span of Service All routes justified by demand. The 46 "Key" routes have a minimum of 16 hours of service, support routes are market-driven and are justified by demand.
Frequency of Service Maximum interval is 30 minutes. Service on branch services may be longer. No change.
Passenger Flow (Loading) Maximum scheduled passenger load in peak on busiest routes: 70 passengers per bus, and 90 passengers per car. Maximum scheduled passenger load in peak on busiest routes: 60 passengers per bus, and 90 passengers per car.
Minimum Productivity No minimum. Routes comparatively evaluated on variable cost recovery, passengers per vehicle hour and passengers per vehicle mile. 30 passengers per vehicle hour when the service interval is 30 minutes.
Additional Design Standards
Standard 1990 Document 2001 Document
Rail skip-stop service Stop designation for a station depended upon several factors, including passenger volume. No longer applicable. Skip-stop service was eliminated in 1995 and trains now stop at all stations.
Revenue equipment distribution Not addressed. Criteria used when assigning or reallocating revenue equipment are: accessibility, air conditioning, average age, and number of bus types.
Bus stop spacing A stop will normally be located at major cross-street intersections and/or major traffic generators. In most instances, stops will be about 1/8 mile apart, depending on neighborhood density. No change.
Passenger amenities Not addressed. Priority given to stops that have: large numbers of boarding passengers, lengthy wait times between vehicles, high percentage of transfer passengers, and high percentage of seniors or disabled persons using it.
Process and Evaluation
Standard 1990 Document 2001 Document
Service Change Process Annual Comparative Evaluation for major changes. Process involved a complex, weighted ranking of proposals received in a 12-month period based on change in ridership, service coverage, and operating cost. Semi-annual Review ranks major service proposals received during a six to twelve month period. Proposals are ranked against each other and compared to the productivity levels of existing services.
Decision-Making Powers Major changes require board approval: Permanent changes in routing, span of service changes greater than 30 minutes, changes that affect more than 25% of a route's passengers or miles. No change.
Public Participation Not addressed Focus is on on-going, regular dialogue with the community. Consists of three integrated steps, customer outreach, outreach to the public communities & elected officials, and public meetings and hearings for major changes.
Evaluation Methods & Reporting Bus: quarterly reports using variable cost recovery to rank routes.
Rail: annual reports with stations ranked by their entering passenger traffic.
With AFC data, bus ridership and entering passengers at rail stations are reported monthly. Bus routes are ranked using passengers per vehicle hour. Entering passengers are used to rank stations and branches on rail.
Rail Station Evaluation Decision to keep a station open based on two tiered analysis that included factors such as entering passengers, traffic per agent hour, station spacing, alternate service. Stations are open as long as trains are in operation on the branch.
Experimental Services All approved service changes implemented for a one-year trial. Status reports made to the Board six months after implementation. Services designated as experimental have a 180-day evaluation period. A decision on retaining the service must be made at the end of the 180 days. The Board may cancel or adjust the service during the experimental period.





See also...

For easier reference, some information formerly posted in Reports & Notices on this Web site now has its own page. See these pages for complete information about the following:


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