Infographics show details on top 5 U.S. transit systems

Chicago has the nation's second largest transit system, eclipsed only by New York City's mammoth transit system. Rounding out the top five are Boston, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco.

Student at the University of North Carolina School of Government's online Master of Public Administration program, MPA@UNC, has created an infographic to illustrate the history and scope of the five largest public transportation systems.

The "Let's Take a Ride" infographic compares ridership, revenue, upcoming improvements, and even frequent customer complaints of transit systems in those cities.

I've always found these comparison numbers to be interesting, and perhaps you will too.

Here are screenshots of the CTA infographic.

CTA infographic 1 CTA infographic 2 CTA infographic 3


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  • Someone needs to tell these people Ventra is not an improvement.

  • In reply to Cheryl:

    Also "by the end of 2013" didn't happen.

  • There's a lot wrong with that "infographic".
    CTA operates only in one county, although in theory it could operate in the collar counties..
    It doesn't run Pace or Metra.
    The RTA may be the second largest "system" if you want to stretch it, but the DC Metro system carries more passengers on its trains than the CTA.
    I believe LA carries more people on its buses than the CTA & it runs far more bus routes.
    If you go to the site, there are a lot of comments complaining about the metrics of this mess!

  • Scooter is extremely correct that the infographic is incorrect.

    Which also brings up that the newspapers are now running articles that the Fitzgerald task force is predictably coming up with nothing. Carole Brown is trying to save board members' salaries by saying that she did something to earn hers, but certainly the current CT Board members do nothing to earn theirs, especially if you believe Claypool that he reports only to the mayor, and not to some "committee." Somehow it is totally beyond the ken of Quinn's appointees to that task force that 17 MTA board members do more for a transit system maybe 3 times the size of the ones in the RTA region, while we have 47 board members, most of which are useless. I'm not ready to throw the Pace board "under the bus" yet, but the 3 other boards certainly should be.

  • This is obviously a school project, but more like what one would expect of 5th graders rather than people in a master program at a university. The information presented is inconsistent, incomplete, and inaccurate.

  • How is the ridership infographic wrong?

    Source NTD 2012 data:
    LACMTA- Rail + Bus Unlinked Trips= 464,875,164
    WMATA- Rail + Bus Unlinked Trips= 424,184,885
    CTA- Rail + Bus Unlinked Trips= 545,577,917

    DC may have higher rail ridership but the bus ridership is in the floor (comparatively) and while LA may have higher bus ridership, the rail is also in the floor. Also, CTA has higher weekend ridership in general.

  • In reply to ibright05:

    Regardless of Scooter's particulars, the flaws are noted by such comments as " For instance you list Metra but not Caltrain, MARC or VRE." They say Metra is part of CTA, but apparently use only CTA numbers. Then another commenter had a WMATA source for WMATA. Then they count BART as the main SF system, when everyone outside of North Carolina knows that the main system in SF is Muni. That's like if they based Chicago numbers on the South Shore.

    Then, of course, they rely on unlinked trips. At least they admit that, even though the RTA says that is not the sole measure (when CTA cries about the funding formula and demands, I guess, 82% of the tax revenues because they have 82% of the unlinked trips, regardless of passenger miles).

    I've heard "apples and oranges," but a comparison is certainly invalid if it assumes a whole transportation system in some instances (MTA and MBTA) and only parts in others (see above).

  • Also, Chicago is the only city that has ever required operators/motormen to clean their entire trains.

  • In reply to ibilldavis:

    Good point ibill! Can't believe they missed that when putting together the infographic.

  • In reply to Kevin O’Neil:

    I believe it. They are anti union like you.

  • In reply to ibilldavis:

    Given that they said that Ventra would be complete in 2013, maybe they didn't get to that time frame yet.

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