Train on Wells Street bridge

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

Importantly, the workforce issues facing the public transit industry didn’t just appear one day: they emerged and accelerated since the onset of the pandemic. While we are continuing to make progress, this is not a matter that will be resolved overnight or in a few months.

To increase visibility into our ongoing efforts, we’ve created monthly Meeting the Moment Scorecards, which allows you to track our progress in hiring, and other key metrics outlined in our “Meeting the Moment” Action Plan. 

Latest News

New Year, New Career! Join the Team that Moves Chicago. CTA Seeks to Hire Bus Operators and Bus Mechanics 01/24/2023

Take the first step towards establishing a new career in the new year within the diverse field of transportation by attending the Chicago Transit Authority’s (CTA) Hiring Event on Saturday January 28th at CTA Headquarters. Read More about New Year, New Career! Join the Team that Moves Chicago. CTA Seeks to Hire Bus Operators and Bus Mechanics

CTA Continues to Make Progress on "MTM" Action Plan 01/13/2023

Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) today issued its latest monthly scorecard tracking the progress the agency is making to improve service as part of its “Meeting the Moment” Action Plan. Read More about CTA Continues to Make Progress on "MTM" Action Plan

Bus Schedule Optimization to Provide More Consistent, Reliable Service 01/09/2023

The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) today announced changes to its bus schedules on nearly half of its bus routes – intended to provide better, more reliable service. Read More about Bus Schedule Optimization to Provide More Consistent, Reliable Service

CTA Welcomes Newest Hires, Among Them: 130 Plus New Bus Operators 12/20/2022

As part of ongoing efforts to address workforce challenges and improve service throughout the system, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) today announced the addition of more than 160 new employees to help fill critical positions in Bus Operations, Bus Maintenance and Rail Station Management. Read More about CTA Welcomes Newest Hires, Among Them: 130 Plus New Bus Operators

CTA Continues to Make Progress on Action Plan 12/15/2022

Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) today issued its latest monthly scorecard tracking the progress the agency is making on initiatives introduced in support of its “Meeting the Moment” Action Plan. The enhanced scorecard measures the agency’s performance in a number of operational areas—and reflects both progress being made as well as the need for more work in many areas. The latest scorecard highlights ongoing, gradual improvement in service delivery and reliability, as the CTA continues to face ​ Read More about CTA Continues to Make Progress on Action Plan

CTA Approves Contract to Begin First Phase of Track Reconstruction Work of the Forest Park Branch of the Blue Line 12/14/2022

The Chicago Transit Board today approved a contract for the first phase of track reconstruction work as part of extensive improvements planned for the entire Forest Park Branch of the Blue Line. Read More about CTA Approves Contract to Begin First Phase of Track Reconstruction Work of the Forest Park Branch of the Blue Line

Chicago Transit Board Approves New Hiring and Retention Incentives for CTA Bus and Rail Workers 12/14/2022

In support of ongoing efforts to attract top talent and remain competitive across multiple industries facing the same workforce challenges, the Chicago Transit Board today approved plans for the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) to offer financial incentives to attract and retain employees. Read More about Chicago Transit Board Approves New Hiring and Retention Incentives for CTA Bus and Rail Workers

CTA Hosting Career Fair for Full-Time Bus Operator and Bus Mechanics Positions; Agency Now Offering Financial Incentives to New Employees 11/30/2022

As part of its steadfast commitment to improving service reliability, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) is hosting an in-person career fair this Friday seeking candidates for full-time Bus Operator and Bus Mechanic positions. More than a dozen CTA Career Fairs have been held this year, and this is the first event held since announcing new hiring and retention bonuses, plus increased starting hourly rates for these positions. Read More about CTA Hosting Career Fair for Full-Time Bus Operator and Bus Mechanics Positions; Agency Now Offering Financial Incentives to New Employees

CTA Providing Incentives for Bus and Rail Workers 11/18/2022

As part of its ongoing efforts to address industry-wide workforce challenges, the CTA will begin to offer financial incentives to attract and retain employees. Read More about CTA Providing Incentives for Bus and Rail Workers

Chicago Transit Authority’s 2023 Budget Holds the Line on Fares, Maintains Bus and Rail Service 11/15/2022

The Chicago Transit Authority’s (CTA) $1.8 billion operating budget that keeps fares at current levels, maintains the agency’s commitment to improving service, and continues important investments to upgrade and modernize the system – was approved by the Chicago Transit Board. Read More about Chicago Transit Authority’s 2023 Budget Holds the Line on Fares, Maintains Bus and Rail Service

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