CTA carried 8.7 percent more riders in March, 1999 than during the same month of 1998, the agency announced today. For the first quarter of 1999 as a whole, 3,178,619 more customers rode CTA trains and buses, representing an increase of 3.1 percent from the same period a year ago.
Of the March monthly total, bus ridership was up by 1.8 million, or 7.4 percent, while rail ridership showed an increase of 1.2 million for a gain of 11.7 percent. Of the increase, about 900,000 rides can be attributed to an extra weekday and one less Sunday in 1999 compared to 1998. But even taking this into account, March ridership increased 6.1 percent overall.
Altogether in 1998, the CTA provided 424.1 million rides, including 80 million to suburban customers.
"Last year we experienced the first increase in ridership on both bus and rail since 1985," said CTA Chairman Valerie Jarrett. "What we are seeing this year is an expansion of that positive trend. Customers are responding to our initiatives that are making the CTA system easier to use and understand, and to the way we have been strengthening service where the need is clearly shown."
One factor in the ridership increase is the sale of CTA's popular new 1-Day and 7-Day Passes that were introduced in mid-December. Sales of the $5 1-Day passes have averaged about 13,000 per month. Priced at $20, and valid for unlimited riding for seven consecutive days beginning with the first use, 7-Day passes were used for 824,000 rides in January, and for 2,269,000 rides in March.
Also contributing to increasing ridership is the CTA's University Pass program (U-Pass), now in its second phase, which provides full-time students from participating Chicago-area colleges with passes for unlimited riding each semester. Two new colleges recently joined the dozen institutions that took part in the initial program when it was introduced last fall, making the U-Pass program available to nearly 30,000 area students.
"Our efforts to provide more reliable and convenient service are showing results," said CTA President Frank Kruesi. ?We?ve added new services where we see a demand, and our automated farecard system provides options that are convenient and economical."
Another encouraging aspect of the CTA's ridership increase can be seen on the Green Line ?L." As the CTA marks the third anniversary of the line's reopening this week, average weekday boardings have reached almost 27,000, which is slightly more than when the line was closed for reconstruction five years ago.
"What has happened on the Green Line shows that fast, efficient service can win back customers," said Chairman Jarrett. "We knew that our investment in rebuilding the line would pay off in the shorter commuting times and greater convenience our customers were looking for."
?The Green Line will get another boost late next year when we expect to open a new station on Lake Street at Conservatory Drive, improving service to the Garfield Park community," said President Kruesi. ?And we anticipate attracting still more customers when the Chicago Police Department opens its new headquarters on 35th Street, and other developments generate additional activity all along the line. Easy access to public transportation is an asset to any development, and enables us to fulfill our mission of linking people, jobs and communities.
"The CTA's ridership increases show that there is a strong demand for quality, affordable public transportation," Kruesi added, "but our efforts to attract new customers to transit are directly tied to our ability to rebuild. To stay on the right track, the CTA needs the state funding contained in Governor Ryan's Illinois FIRST plan."
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