A smiling young woman riding a bus

Meeting the Moment

Transforming CTA’s Post-Pandemic Future

Every day, we work to provide as much service as possible to our bus and rail customers.

However, unprecedented workforce challenges facing the entire U.S. transit industry are preventing us from providing all our scheduled service. In August, we issued “Meeting the Moment,” a comprehensive plan to address the myriad issues facing the CTA, and the first plan of its kind among U.S. transit agencies.

Here’s a look at the issues surrounding the workforce challenges, and what we are doing to address it:

A national issue

Workforce shortages have plagued many industries, but the entire transportation segment, particularly those where commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs) are required – e.g.., aviation, trucking, logistics and delivery companies, construction and more – has been particularly hard hit. Two recent transit industry reports highlight the prevalence of the issue.

The first, “Transit Workforce Shortage” (October 2022) issued by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) – which represents more than 1,500 public- and private-sector organizations in North America – found that:

  • 96% of agencies surveyed are having workforce challenges
  • 84% of agencies reported that staffing shortages are impacting service

The second report “Bus Operators in Crisis” (July 2022), issued by The TransitCenter, which focused solely on bus operators, found that:

  • In 2021, the average transit operator is ten years older than the average American worker, 52.7, leading to higher attrition rates.
  • The staffing crisis began before COVID-19, but the unprecedented pandemic worsened the existing problem for agencies across the nation.

Here is some recent media coverage from across the U.S. about the industrywide workforce challenges:

How we are addressing the challenge

The days of simply posting a “Now Hiring” notice are long gone. We are now competing with numerous other industries for qualified candidates to fill positions that require CDLs. We have taken numerous and extraordinary steps to remain competitive in the marketplace, including:

Expanded and aggressive recruitment, hiring and retention initiatives

Optimized schedules for more consistent service

Rail Schedule Optimization

New rail schedules, which maintained hours of service, were implemented in October to better reflect existing staffing levels. All rail lines, except the Yellow Line, saw weekday schedules optimized, while the weekend schedules for Blue, Red, Brown and Orange lines were also optimized. Within the first few weeks of these changes, improvements included:

  • Reduced instances of rail service intervals that were three times the scheduled service by 65.7% on the Blue Line and 41.1% on the Red Line (weekdays).
  • Reduced instances of rail service intervals that were two times scheduled service by 20.1% on the Blue Line and 10.8% on the Red Line (weekdays).

​Bus Schedule Optimization

New, temporary schedule changes were implemented along 52 bus routes—nearly half of all bus routes—to also better align schedules with the current available workforce. These changes went into effect in early January and are intended to provide more consistent service and improve the accuracy of Bus Tracker results.

Tracking our progress

As part of its continuing commitment to transparency and to keeping customers informed on all aspects of operations, the CTA now offers an improved, expanded and interactive tool to track the agency’s performance.

CTA’s updated Performance Metrics report, updated monthly and are accessible to address constituent concerns an interactive dashboard on CTA’s website, measures multiple areas of performance, from ridership numbers to operator headcount, elevator and escalator up-time and availability of bus and rail fleet for service. The dashboard will provide a 13-month history to look at historical performance and customize information to user preferences.

Latest News

CTA Highlights Progress One Year After “Meeting the Moment” Plan Launched 08/25/2023

The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) today announced that in the year since CTA President Dorval R. Carter, Jr. unveiled the “Meeting the Moment: Transforming CTA’s Post-Pandemic Future” Action Plan, measurable progress has been made in each of the five guiding pillars outlined in the plan. Read More about CTA Highlights Progress One Year After “Meeting the Moment” Plan Launched

CTA Releases Next-Generation Performance Dashboard 07/12/2023

As part of its continuing commitment to transparency and to keeping customers informed on all aspects of operations, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) today unveiled an improved, expanded and interactive tool to track the agency’s performance. Read More about CTA Releases Next-Generation Performance Dashboard

CTA Advances Hiring Momentum, Hosts Career Fair This Friday for New Bus Operators and Bus Mechanics 05/16/2023

The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) is seeking driven and dedicated candidates to take the first step towards establishing a new career within the diverse field of transportation by attending the upcoming CTA Career Fair this Friday morning. This event is the latest in ongoing, aggressive recruiting efforts to help strengthen the CTA workforce and provide Chicagoans with more reliable services. Read More about CTA Advances Hiring Momentum, Hosts Career Fair This Friday for New Bus Operators and Bus Mechanics

CTA Latest Monthly Scorecard Shows Continued Improvements and Investments 05/10/2023

Agency continues hiring momentum and invests in employee facilities; Rail and bus service see ongoing improvements in service reliability Read More about CTA Latest Monthly Scorecard Shows Continued Improvements and Investments

CTA Continues to Expand its Monthly Scorecard Data to Include Added Workforce Metrics 04/12/2023

Service reliability for the Chicago Transit Authority’s (CTA) rail and bus systems show continued improvement in March, with fewer long waits and improved delivery of scheduled service—according to the agency’s latest interactive “Meeting the Moment” Action Plan scorecard. Read More about CTA Continues to Expand its Monthly Scorecard Data to Include Added Workforce Metrics

CTA Crews to ‘Refresh & Renew’ 29 Stations in 2023 04/06/2023

The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) today announced that 29 rail stations will receive repairs and improvements in 2023 as part of its ongoing, cyclical station improvement program Refresh & Renew, a key initiative of the “Meeting the Moment” Action Plan. Read More about CTA Crews to ‘Refresh & Renew’ 29 Stations in 2023

Service Changes Designed to Provide Better Service Along Blue Line O’Hare Branch 03/24/2023

As part of efforts to address increasing ridership along the Blue Line O’Hare Branch and provide better service, the CTA will begin operational changes to provide more trains along the line. Read More about Service Changes Designed to Provide Better Service Along Blue Line O’Hare Branch

CTA Ridership Reaches Highest Levels Since 2020 03/22/2023

In 2022, CTA annual ridership reached 243.5 million, adding more than 47 million rides from the 2021 annual total of 196 million. Read More about CTA Ridership Reaches Highest Levels Since 2020

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