CTA Provides Update on Red Line South Customer Ridership Trends

July 10, 2013
More than 90 percent of Red Line South customers have been using the extensive alternate service the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) is providing during the historic reconstruction project—including thousands of customers taking advantage of free bus shuttles and discounted bus rides.
The CTA recently completed an analysis of ridership trends of customers whose commute was affected by the Red Line South Reconstruction Project, a $425 million rebuilding of 10.2 miles of tracks and refurbishment of eight stations along the route. The project completely closed the Red Line South from Cermak-Chinatown to 95th Street from May 19 through late October 2013.
To handle the diversion of Red Line South customers, the CTA implemented an extensive alternative-service plan that includes free shuttle buses between the Garfield elevated and southernmost Red Line stations; a local shuttle bus serving all stations between 95th and 63rd Streets; an express shuttle between Roosevelt and Chinatown-Cermak; and expanded bus service on several regular bus routes.
The CTA is also operating Red Line trains on Green Line tracks between Roosevelt and Ashland/63rd.  To ease the impact on riders, the CTA is offering free entry to Red and Green Line trains at the Garfield elevated station, as well as 50-cent discounts on bus routes south of 63rd Street.
Since the project start, the CTA has continued to closely analyze rail station entries on nearby train lines as well as relevant bus and shuttle bus boardings to ensure enough rail and bus service is being provided to meet demand and provide efficient, reliable transportation to affected customers. More than 42,000 customers are using the alternative service on an average weekday—more than the entire average daily ridership of either the Purple or Pink Lines.
The impact of the project on ridership is a slight 0.6 percent decrease in overall CTA average weekday rail ridership. Looking at the Red Line South project area specifically, the CTA estimates a ridership decline of approximately 9.8 percent when comparing with Red Line South ridership in April 2013 of about 46,000 station entries to post-construction entries of 42,103. This is in line with CTA expectations for a project of this size and impact, and in line with temporary ridership declines from major CTA rail construction projects over the past decade. For most of CTA’s recent construction projects, ridership not only returned to pre-construction levels once the project ended, but saw noticeable increases.
Projects to rebuild Brown Line stations (2008), track and slow zone work on the O’Hare branch of the Blue Line (2009) and similar work in the Dearborn subway (2007), and reconstruction of the tracks and structure that would become the Pink Line (2003) all saw temporary ridership drops during the project. In each case, ridership eventually surpassed pre-construction levels.
“The CTA has undertaken the Red Line South project in an unprecedented, strategic way – no other transit agency has shut down a major rail line and rebuilt it from the ground up in such a condensed period of time,” said CTA President Forrest Claypool. “The investment CTA is making in the South Side by building a brand new railroad will speed up round-trips by as much as 20 minutes between 95th Street and downtown. It will provide customers with a smoother ride and fewer service interruptions through better reliability and on-time performance – attributes that we expect in the long run will actually grow ridership in the future.”
Where Red Line South rides went: (All figures are additional average weekday ridership that replaced Red Line South rides.*)
20,953             Green Line/re-routed Red Line (all Green/Red South stations)
  2,219             Orange Line (Roosevelt, Halsted, Ashland)
10,481             CTA bus routes – largest increases on #3, #4, #9, #J14, #29
  8,450             Bus shuttle rides that weren’t part of transfers to Green/Red stations
46,700             Red Line South ridership, pre-May 19**
 (4,597)            (Difference in ridership before and after May 19 – 0.6% decrease in total systemwide
                       average weekday ridership and 9.8% reduction of Red Line South branch alone)
*Figures average weekday ridership for June 3-June 14.
**April 2013 average weekday ridership
Customers can learn more about CTA’s Red Line South project by visiting our web site www.redlinesouth.com or by following us on Twitter @RedLineSouth.
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