CTA SURVEY SHOWS INCREASE IN “CHOICE” RIDERS

September 5, 2001
09/05/01At the Chicago Transit Board meeting today, the Board was presented with the results of the CTA's ?Traveler Behavior and Attitudes Survey of CTA Riders and Non Riders." Results show that 82% of households in Chicago and 38 surrounding suburbs use the CTA at least occasionally while 48% of households use the service regularly. The survey also showed more customers are choosing to use the CTA, Frequent Riders are riding the CTA more often, suburban ridership is up considerably and more people are opting for the CTA, especially rail, for trips downtown. Only 8% of those households interviewed had no experience riding the CTA.

The CTA's ridership continues to grow and has increased 7.5% to 450.5 million in 2000, after hitting its lowest level in recent years in 1997 of 419.2 million rides.

A growing percentage of CTA customers are using the system by choice. Those classified as Choice Riders have a car available to them, but choose to use the CTA. They are also customers who can afford a car, but may choose not to own one because of convenient access to public transportation. The Choice Rider category has grown to 68%, up from 51% in 1997.

Customers classified as Frequent Riders (ride the CTA five or more days per week) are using the CTA for more of their trips. When auto and CTA trips are considered together, Frequent Riders responded that 89% of their trips were taken on the CTA, up from 77% in 1990. Conversely, Frequent Rider trips by car declined 12 points to 11% in 2000 from 23% in 1990.

CTA use among suburban households has grown to 28%, substantially larger than the 20% share found when the study was last done in 1993. The west and northwest suburbs have the highest share of suburban households riding the CTA.

The study noted substantial growth in the share of travelers using the CTA for trips downtown. In 1990 such trips were split evenly between the CTA and autos (other modes excluded). Last year, compared to auto, the split was 57%

CTA to 43% automobile. Much of the credit goes to the CTA rail system, which accounted for 40% of downtown trips made by residents of the study area. This figure is up from the 22% CTA rail share in 1990.

The CTA will use the survey results to identify traveler behavior and attitudes that determine how riders make their travel decisions. Results will also be used to identify market segments that represent the greatest potential for increased ridership. Furthermore, findings provide CTA management with information needed to better understand customers.

The survey revealed that Non-riders felt that transit travel times must be more competitive with automobile travel before transit would become a viable travel option for them. Also important for Non-riders is service that is: frequent and on time, clean and comfortable, and safe from crime. The ability to set their own schedules is particularly important to some Non-riders.

Elsewhere in the survey: for the first time, respondents rated CTA buses and trains as more economical to use than cars. They also reflected improvements in security on both the rail and bus systems in their ratings. Improvements for both bus and rail as ?transportation I know how to use? increased over the 1993 report. Trains and buses both received increased ratings for being comfortable and clean. In addition, CTA rail service is perceived in a positive light as a travel mode that ?gets me to my destination the fastest way possible," ?easy to set schedule? and as ?easy to arrange."

?Over the last decade, the CTA has been making improvements such as opening the Orange Line, reconstructing the Green Line, implementing an Automated Fare Collection system, introducing the U-PASS program for college students and launching new Transit Card alternatives and our customers have noticed," said Chicago Transit Board Chairman Valerie B. Jarrett. ?We look forward to making continued improvements to our system as we consider the results of this survey."

?This survey will help us better understand our customers and to develop plans that help us retain current customers and attract new customers," said CTA President Frank Kruesi. ?In order to provide world class public transit service to Chicago and the suburbs that is on-time, clean, safe and friendly, we will take a good look at this survey and the suggestions of those responding to it and see what changes we can make to enhance the CTA."

This extensive survey consisted of 194 questions concerning the behavior and attitudes of those who ride the CTA frequently, occasionally or never.

The research was conducted via computer-assisted random-digit-dial telephone interviews of 2,768 households in the City of Chicago (1,816 interviews) and 38 suburbs (962 interviews). Those classified as CTA Riders were divided into two groups: Frequent Riders (5 or more days a week in the week preceding the survey) and Infrequent Riders (1-4 days that week). Non-riders were broken down into three categories: Occasional Riders (used the CTA in the past year, but not during the week preceding the survey), Former Riders (had not used the CTA in the past year, but had used the system sometime in the past) and those who have Never Ridden the CTA.

The survey report was prepared by Northwest Research Group, Incorporated in Boise, Idaho and Seattle, Washington.

Back to news