Pres. Carter's Remarks to the Chicago City Council Committee on Transportation and Public Way(Feb. 2024)

February 27, 2024

“I am grateful for the opportunity I had to dialogue with the Chicago City Council today, and appreciate the many customers and members of the public who provided their comments during the committee hearing, It’s clear that we all share the same goal of improving CTA service, and CTA is as committed as ever toreaching that goal—and we’re taking steps each day toward that."
--CTA President Dorval R. Carter, Jr.

February 27 2024 remarks as prepared for delivery

Opening Statement

Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, good morning.

I am thankful for the opportunity to address you today and to provide you with an update regarding the significant progress that has been made at CTA since I last addressed this body.

2023 was a very productive year, from our ongoing, aggressive hiring and recruitment marketing campaign… to our strategic efforts to strengthen the CTA customer experience… to the continued upwards trends we’ve seen in ridership, which has included 27 days of more than one-million customer rides, systemwide.

I would like to provide you with some highlights from the past year:

  • Our 2023 hiring efforts were record-breaking:
    • We hosted 13 career fairs, with more than 3,800 job-seekers in attendance.
    • We hired and trained 1,003 new bus operators—more than in any previous year in our agency’s history.
    • We also hired 101 bus mechanics—this is more than we employed in total before the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • We also made good progress in adding new rail operators, which has been the biggest challenge in our quest to add more rail service. In 2023, we added about 90 new rail operators, and to combat the normal attrition we see in this position, we are aggressively training new rail operators, with a goal of adding 200 rail operators over the course of this year.
  • These achievements in hiring have resulted in tremendous achievements in service reliability over the past several months.  Currently, CTA regularly fills nearly 100% of scheduled bus service and approximately 90% of scheduled rail service.  Data such as this can be closely monitored on our next-generation performance dashboard, which we rolled out in 2023.  Here, CTA shares publicly data regarding service delivery, delays, wait times, hiring, absenteeism, safety, and cleanliness.  Also publicly available are the results of our quarterly customer surveys, which are just one element of our commitment to our riders.
  • To give you a sense of the breadth of information CTA shares publicly, I am going to have CTA’s Chief Administrative Officer walk you through our public dashboard, which showcases unprecedented levels of transparency for the agency. Tom….
  • (Tom walks through dashboard)
  • Thank you, Tom.  In addition to these service achievements, in 2023, CTA awarded more than $137 million to Disadvantaged Business Enterprises, or DBEs, in prime and sub-contracts and has paid DBEs over $155 million.
  • Through our Refresh & Renew program, we made $6.5 million in repairs and improvements at 30 rail stations and 14 bus turnaround areas throughout the city—making all these facilities cleaner, brighter and safer for all.
  • We invested $2 million to expand our partnership with the Chicago Department of Family and Support Services to assist CTA riders who are unsheltered, as well as those grappling with mental health and substance abuse. This allowed DFSS to add personnel that was deployed to conduct outreach and connect impacted riders with the resources they need, such as housing, medical care, and social services.

That is just a small sampling of the progress we’ve made throughout the year and I am excited to share more as part of our discussion today. CTA provided 279 million rides in 2023, up 14% from 2022 and the third straight year of ridership increases.

The future for CTA is bright. 

  • As part of our budget process last fall, CTA announced we will be adding service to both our bus and rail systems over the course of this year, with the next major addition coming in just the next few weeks.
  • We will continue work on our Red Purple Modernization project, which among many achievements will result in four fully ADA-accessible stations, which along with the Racine Blue Line station make five stations currently under construction to become accessible.
  • The Chicago Department of Transportation will complete construction of the CTA Damen Green Line station, offering more access to the community and an additional ADA accessible station.
  • CTA will launch its “Bus Vision” plan, a comprehensive strategy for engaging with the public to determine how bus service can better serve our communities.
  • We will continue to add to our workforce – who, without a doubt, are the heart and soul of this agency. 

Before I close, I would be remiss if I did not again thank this body for your support of our $3.6 billion Red Line Extension. As you know, since your approval of the Transit TIF, the Federal Transit Administration has confirmed that CTA is in line for more than $1.9 billion in federal funding to support that vital project, which will expand transit in an area that was denied rail service for more than five decades. One of the most significant milestones ahead for CTA in 2024 is the signing of the “Full Funding Grant Agreement” for the Red Line Extension, which will mark the moment the Red Line Extension is fully funded.  It is hard to put into words how tremendously historic that moment will be for the CTA and our City. 

Mr. Chairman, with your permission, at this time, I would like to introduce the staff that has joined me today:

  1. Donald Bonds, Chief Transit Officer
  2. Molly Poppe, Chief Planning and Innovation Officer
  3. Tom McKone, Chief Administrative Officer
  4. Bill Mooney, Chief Infrastructure Officer
  5. Denise Barreto, Chief Equity and Engagement Officer
  6. Jeremy Fine, Chief Financial Officer
  7. Kevin Ryan, Vice President of Security

At this time, Chairman Mitchell, I am happy to answer any questions.


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