Press Release September 18. 2014
CTA Makes Cuts to Core System and Then Wonders Why Ridership Declined

Transit Group Says Declining Ridership 
Due To “Service Adjustments”

The CTA officials have undertaken to look into declining ridership on buses over the past year and a half, and apparently have no reason to explain this loss of passengers. According to the transit group Citizens Taking Action, concerns were voiced months ago when the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) released a report indicating that, nationwide last year, more Americans had used public transit in greater numbers than at any time since 1956, taking over 10 billion trips.  

APTA data indicated, however, that during the same record year ridership on CTA was down by 3.12%. Ridership went up on Pace by 1.79%, and up also on Metra by 0.48%. Thus, at the same time bus use went down on CTA, it went up on Pace

CTA indicated that it had assembled “focus groups” of passengers, apparently selected at random, as a way to figure out why ridership was dropping. One board member suggested that census data be looked at, apparently thinking that the overall population of Chicago had somehow changed, resulting in people not using public transit. CTA is also suggesting the decline is due to cold weather and school closings, with students staying home.

Charles Paidock, co-director, stated that “If CTA wants to find out why ridership is down, why don’t they look at the ongoing number of bus routes and schedules which have been cut, which CTA calls “service adjustments.” After ridership then declines as a result on a route, which should come as no surprise, CTA eliminates it altogether. You also end up with areas of the city either with limited or no service at all. We did a study of service in each ward, and could only find five (5) which had excellent service. How do you get around on a system that’s always changing, and getting smaller at the same time. CTA changed 48 routes in December 2012, nearly half the system, and got rid of 12 routes altogether, and called it “crowding reduction.” This is when ridership began to drop. The following month, January 2013, the average daily bus boardings suddenly went down by over 7%. Amazingly, CTA later announced that the changes were “working.”

The organization also maintains the remaining transit service is simply not reliable. Kevin Peterson, co-director, stated that: “Studies have shown that poor service is the number one reason people stop using public transit. Nothing ruins a public transportation rider's day quite like waiting around for a train or bus that never shows up.”

Mr. Peterson added that it is hard for a transit dependent rider to figure out how to get around the system. He said that:: “CTA just puts up maybe one small sign with a long list of routes being changed, and expects riders to somehow find out on their own what the changes will be. Only rarely is a sign put up at stops. Then sometimes several months later a new system-wide schedule is issued, if you can get one, Customer assistants don’t have system maps to give to passengers, and you’re extremely lucky to get a printed particular route map.”

Citizens Taking Action
for transit dependent riders
American Public Transportation Association 
reports record ridership nationwide for 2013

CT Cuts 12 Routes, "adds service" to 48, December 2012

CTA Claims Changes Starting in December 2012 in 48 Routes 'Improving Commutes"

Article:  CTA's bus and rail decrowding plan is working

Article:  CTA bus ridership down year-over-year for past 19 months,0,3251585.story

APTA Report on RIdership, 3 Systems For Illinois (Page 17)

CTA Ridership Reports

Citizens Taking Action Scores for Service in Each Ward of City

List of Bus Routes Eliminated, and  Stations Closed Since CTA Started on October 1, 1947

Study:  Top Reasons People Stop Using Public Transit
According to CTA, 
Bus Service Improved But Ridership Declined Over the Same Period (?)