Improved Reliability End Result of CTA’s Performance Management Process

January 14, 2009

Chicago Transit Authority President Ron Huberman reported today that CTA’s on- time performance improved in 2008 as a result of a performance management initiative that identifies and tracks key factors that influence reliability.

Over the past year, the CTA has measured the efficiency and on-time performance of buses and trains, and has identified and tracked the behind the scenes activities that influence performance, such as preventative maintenance, percentage of slow zones and manpower levels.

“We hold managers accountable and track overall performance of the organization. The direct result is improved service for our customers,” said Huberman. “Through the performance management process, the CTA was able to provide better and more reliable service to its customers in 2008, and that contributed to significant increases in ridership throughout the year. In 2009, CTA will continue to build on these successes to further improve service for its growing ridership.”

For rail customers, travel time has improved as a result of an aggressive plan to eliminate slow zones. Slow zones now exist on about seven percent of the rail system, down from 22.3 percent in October 2007.  

Despite an aging fleet with some rail cars nearing 40 years old, mechanical problems decreased by 16 percent and trains were able to travel an average of 38% farther before experiencing a defect. More reliable cars contributed to more reliable service: During rush periods, 83% of trains came within one minute of their scheduled arrival time.

Big gaps between buses – measured by arrivals that are either double the scheduled headway or 15 minutes between buses, whichever is greater - have decreased by 31 percent since fall 2007, and the number of buses arriving within one minute or less of buses ahead has decreased by 24 percent.

Through performance management, the CTA has embarked on an aggressive maintenance program to schedule the replacement of parts nearing the end of their useful life before they fail.  By developing a system to catch up on preventative maintenance – the amount of overdue jobs has been reduced by 45 percent – the number of buses held in due to defective equipment has dropped dramatically since last year. CTA has experienced a 99.9 percent decrease in bus runs held in for defective equipment since August 2007. Training for managers on absenteeism and the demand for more accountability has decreased the number of daily runs cancelled due to manpower shortages by 82 percent since August 2007.

Performance management has also helped the CTA identify areas that continue to need review. This fall, the CTA changed the way in which it is counting bus service disruptions in order to improve the consistency and accuracy of the data collected.

“We are proud of these success stories, but we know we still have work to do to make  the CTA customer experience the best that it can possibly be,” said Huberman.  “Given the difficult economic environment, it is also paramount that we understand the value we get for every dollar we spend and make the most out of the resources we have available.”

In May 2007, the CTA implemented a performance management process that focuses on a data-driven management model aimed at improving operational efficiencies which in turn enhance the customer experience. All CTA departments are responsible for managing to targets based on key performance and financial metrics organized around five goals – safe, on time, clean, courteous and efficient.

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