May 1, 2002

Overall customer satisfaction with the Chicago Transit Authority has grown significantly in the past two years, and customer loyalty has doubled since 1995, according to a survey released Wednesday by the CTA. The survey also showed that the perception of CTA as a market-oriented agency has grown to 61 percent of customers.

Among the key findings of the survey was that overall satisfaction increased from 80 percent in 1999 to 85 percent last year, with 43 percent calling themselves ?very satisfied? compared to 34 percent two years earlier. Surveys have been conducted every two years since 1995.

For the first time there was a significant gain in overall satisfaction among bus customers, rising from 77 percent satisfied in 1999 to 82 percent satisfied last year. The share of customers who said they were ?very satisfied? grew to 39 percent, compared to 30 percent in 1999. Improvements were noted in four key areas: ease of fare payment, personal safety, the appearance and comfort of equipment, and service reliability.

Rail customer satisfaction, which stood at 83 percent in 1999, increased to 88 percent in 2001, with 48 percent saying they were ?very satisfied," compared to 39 percent in 1999. Rail customers identified improvements in their access to service, ease of fare payment, helpfulness of personnel, personal safety, appearance and comfort of equipment and stations, and service en route.

The share of CTA customers who are measured as loyal has increased significantly, from 27 percent in 1995 to 55 percent in 2001. During the same period, the share of 'secure? customers -- those who are the most loyal to CTA -- has nearly tripled, increasing from 13 to 33 percent. These customers were very satisfied overall with the CTA, said they were very willing to keep riding the CTA, and were very likely to recommend the CTA to others.

?The growing satisfaction our customers have with CTA is a tribute to the hard work of thousands of dedicated employees," said CTA Chairman Valerie B. Jarrett. "It also shows customers are noticing the changes we are making, and are responding favorably to our efforts to rebuild the system through new bus purchases, reconditioning older buses and train cars, upgrading 'L' stations and renewing aging infrastructure."

The perception of CTA as a market-oriented agency increased from 41 percent in 1997, when this issue was first identified, to 61 percent in 2001. Contributing to the improvement were such elements as the CTA's cost-conscious management of a large and complex system, the way the agency shows it cares about its customers, its ability to keep fares low while maintaining quality service, and its consideration of the needs of customers in developing new services.

?We?re very pleased at this confirmation that customers are responding positively to the many improvements we?ve made at the CTA," said CTA President Frank Kruesi. "We?ve made real progress in the last few years, and the Customer Satisfaction Survey has proven to be a valuable tool in telling us what works and in gauging which areas need additional attention. We?ll take what we?ve learned from this survey and use it as a blueprint for moving forward in our efforts to provide on-time, clean, safe and friendly service for our customers."

The survey found that bus customers are particularly sensitive to issues of reliability, comfort and driver communications. Rail customers are sensitive to the same comfort and reliability issues as bus customers, including crowding on trains, on-time performance and wait time when transferring. They are also concerned about the availability of parking at 'L' stations and the condition of telephones in the stations and on 'L' platforms.

The new survey was conducted last fall by the Northwest Research Group, of Boise, Idaho, based on random telephone interviews with 2,500 frequent riders in seven geographical areas within the CTA service area who had ridden the CTA at least once in the week before being surveyed. For the first time since the biennial surveys began in 1995, interviews were conducted in Spanish as well as in English.

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