Surveys also show work still needed in many areas to further improve the customer experience, which the agency is committed to addressing
Customer satisfaction with CTA service increased throughout 2023, according to customer-satisfaction surveys administered throughout the year.
Since launching the Meeting the Moment Action Plan in August 2022, all key performance indicators for bus and rail service have shown measurable improvement in customer satisfaction across six quarterly surveys, including the most recent survey conducted in October and November.
The quarterly surveys have been an important tool for the agency to measure progress, but most importantly, to better understand and identify the additional service improvements that are necessary to meet customer expectations and further improve service. While customer satisfaction rates have improved, satisfaction remains below pre-COVID levels in many important areas.
“These surveys, which we have been doing every quarter since summer 2022, show that we’re making measurable progress in many areas,” said CTA President Dorval R. Carter, Jr. “But clearly there is more work we need to do. I’m absolutely committed to that—our work is not done, and we are focused on further improving the experience for all of our customers.”
Across the quarterly surveys, respondents reported that the top factors influencing the choice to ride CTA more include if service came more frequently, if real-time arrival information for buses was more accurate, and if buses were faster and more reliable.
To respond to these concerns, CTA has made significant updates to the Bus and Train Trackers and worked to realign scheduled service to the available workforce to boost service reliability.
Since starting the surveys in summer 2022, bus customers reported the largest increases in customer satisfaction with regard to service frequency (58% satisfied, 17 points), reliability of bus service (54% satisfied, 10 points), and accuracy of bus tracker information (57% satisfied, 12 points). Accuracy of real-time arrival information for trains has also increased significantly (73% satisfied, 11 points).
Additional upgrades to Bus and Train Trackers and increases to weekday and weekend service frequency across bus and rail are both planned for 2024. These investments are needed to improve the overall rider experience and provide them the confidence that they can rely on CTA to reach their destinations on time.
Respondents on the quarterly surveys also reported that better security on board was a top factor influencing their satisfaction and riding frequency. CTA’s partnerships with CPD and security personnel have increased presence at stations and the agency’s partnership with DFSS has provided additional outreach to unhoused individuals. As a result, customers’ satisfaction with personal security at the train station (60% satisfied, 13 points) has had the highest increase of all rail metrics. However, personal security on the train (49% satisfied, 7 points) has seen smaller gains, indicating that continued efforts are needed to ensure all riders feel safe and secure on the system and satisfaction with personal security can exceed pre-COVID levels.
Eighty percent of respondents reported that they are satisfied or very satisfied with the value of service for fare paid, 11 points higher than pre-COVID satisfaction levels (69% satisfied in 2018). This significant increase in satisfaction is due in large part to recent efforts by the agency to reduce the price of all CTA-Pace pass products, the elimination of the transfer fee between CTA service, and better integration between CTA, Pace and Metra fare products implemented since the start of COVID.
The recent increases in customer satisfaction align with other metrics that CTA tracks regarding rider satisfaction and agency performance, including:
- Increased Ridership: More than 900,000 rides are provided on an average weekday, with more than 25 days of 1 million-plus ridership in 2023.
- Service Reliability: Both rail and bus service has become more consistent, with fewer long waits. In November, CTA provided 92 percent of scheduled rail service and 99.4 percent of scheduled bus service.
- Security: Crime was down in 2023, with overall crime down 5% compared to 2022.
Quarterly survey questions focused on customer habits and preferences. Respondents were recruited online via email, via car card on the system, and limited fliering at stops and stations. Surveys were available in English, Spanish and more recently Polish.
CTA plans to continue to survey riders in 2024. To help customers track CTA’s progress, the agency posts its monthly performance metrics at transitchicago.com/performance.