Fixed Route Ridership Goes Down from 32 Million Passengers to 13 Million
over the past Ten Years*
Transit Group Opposes Elimination of 69 Fixed Routes
from Suburban Bus Schedule
Citizens Taking Action for public transit testified, at the start of public hearings on the proposed 2023 budget for Pace Suburban Transit, in opposition to plans to eliminate sixty-nine (69) bus routes. Pace had suspended service temporarily in 2020, due to reduced ridership during the onset of the Covid pandemic. Rather than restore these routes, Pace will cut them altogether, which poses a severe hardship for passengers across the entire six county system.
The transit group is opposed to any elimination of bus stops which would take place as a result, conceivably well over one hundred, and a decrease in the number of revenue miles and hours which provides farebox funding. Transit fares are necessary to meet what is termed the “recovery ratio” which is required for receiving any government appropriation from the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA).
Charles Paidock, Co-Director of the transit group, stated that: "The sales tax source of funding is the same as it was, and there in fact I believe has been an increase of government funding at the state and federal levels. I simply do not comprehend or see any justification the proposals by the Pace Board of Directors."
Pace buses are an integral part of the regional transit system, primarily as a feeder of passengers who use Metra commuter rail, to travel into Chicago, and possibly then use CTA. Pace is thus the first and last mile that many passengers take in commuting to and from work. Also unlike in Chicago, alternative routes to take do not exist in the suburbs. In addition Pace serves passengers, of which there are growing numbers, who do a “reverse commute” to workplaces located in the suburbs.
While a number of the routes to be cut were possibly “political” in nature, to provide services across six (6) counties that constitute the system, and may have attracted fewer riders than others, the number of routes eliminated it is believed well exceeds those with marginal ridership.
Ridership has been declining on fixed routes for the past ten (10) years, and has gone from 32 million passengers in 2012, down to 13 million in 2022. Ridership on other modes such as “demand/response” and vanpool have declined in similar fashion. Only ADA use by the disabled has remained at the same level over the time period. Pass is offering a temporary discount on prices of daily passes, or charges for transfers, as a way to attract riders.
Five public hearings are still scheduled to take place from October 24 to 28, 2022, with the meetings either in-person or virtual. The public can make comments on the proposed budget until 5:00 pm on Friday, October 28, 2022, at Pace’s website: https://www.pacebus.com/public-hearing-feedback
On November 9, 2022, the Pace Board will vote to adopt the Final 2023 Budge. It is then submitted to RTA for evaluation, with approval scheduled by it on December 15, 2022.
*Pace 2023 Budget, Page 119