Recession hits CTA ridership; monthly drop continues

The CTA felt the effects of the recession and growing unemployment in May, when overall ridership decreased in May by 1.1% compared to May of last year.

CTA President Richard Rodriguez told the CTA board Wednesday:

“The greatest losses in ridership have been during the weekday rush hours, leading us to conclude that there are less people commuting to work due to the recession.”

Rodriguez found a silver lining in the ridership numbers:

“The fact that weekend ridership is up is a good sign that we can attract new customers in some markets.”

Some other news tidbits from the board meeting:

  • AT&T wireless customers will soon be able to use their iPhones and other devices in the CTA subways. The board OK’ed the 10-year, $3.1 million deal. They will join Cricket, Verizon and US Cellular customers in annoying us.
  • More than 1,200 riders have enrolled in new email service to get bus arrival times. Rodriguez says the CTA is still on target for the summer launch of its “on the go” two-way text messaging feature — text a certain number for a bus stop and you’ll get the estimated arrival times of the next four buses.
  • The CTA claims to be making good progress on Blue Line slow zone elimination. Last week “crews removed nearly 14,500 feet of those slow zones.” Phase 1 is about half over. 

And from Wednesday’s news: Ex-CTA chief Ron Huberman officially named four top former lieutenants to key Chicago Public Schools jobs.


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  • The thing you didn't mention was that CTA reconfigured a number of bus routes effective next Monday, including combining 38 and 157. Some changes were by alerts, others by press release. No explanation why some required board action and others didn't.

    Also not clear whether someone waiting for the 82 at the Devon-Kedzie loop will actually get one. According to, not even the drivers on Devon know.

  • All in all I think the ridership numbers are positive. Weekday rush riders will come back when the jobs come back. The CTA seemed rather insulated from ridership losses up until last month, so it's finally catching up. The fact that cumulative ridership is still up for the year and that additional riders are using it on the weekends is good news. With gas prices creeping back up toward $3, we'll see more off peak riders I think, especially for people that don't have jobs.

    I applaud the AT&T deal. I think this will make the CTA some good money as well as provide convenience for users. I don't think I'd ever make a call from down there except on a platform, but the ability to text or use internet is immensely useful to me. Plus, I can check Bus Tracker!

  • Things like the AT&T deal make me very thankful that T-Mobile has free roaming :)

  • Does anyone know why the Titan media displays that are at some rail stations don't display the time until next train anymore (at least at Addison Red)?

    I watched the sign for about 6 minutes this morning and it never showed the time until the next train.

  • Hopefully Chris is right that ridership will do well this Summer.

    Soooo......where's the budget crisis? All gone? Oh...that's right--they solved it last month.

    Ladies and gents--doomsday is coming. It has to. If they've balanced everything off the back of next year (discussed previously), then we're only months away from CTA execs having to publically start talking about next year. How ugly will it be? We have a right to know!!! Their silence is crazy.

    From CTA website: "#18 16th/18th. On weekdays, between the hours of 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., #18 16th/18th buses will begin offering midday service...#53A South Pulaski. To improve access to work and retail locations, weekend service hours along the #53A Pulaski route will be extended from approximately 8 p.m. to 11 p.m.....The #67 67th/69th/71st route will be extended to the Ford City Mall...The #130 Grant Park Treasures route name will be changed to #130 Museum Campus. In addition, summer seasonal weekday service will be added to the route beginning the next day....."

    Adding service during a budget crisis. Brilliant.

  • In reply to JMan01:

    The question is whether CMAQ or JARC funding is being used to continue these service enhancements. It may be a situation of use it or lose it.

    For that matter, the enhancements are far less than what grants the RTA said were issued, including to bring back bus service on 31st and 83rd Streets, extend 44 to the Roosevelt Road area, etc. The 67 extension seems to be the only one on that list to be implemented. Reference to the RTA grant list.

    But you do raise the question how service can be increased in one place while the threat of doomsday has again been brought into play. Maybe that is why we haven't seen the broader initiatives.

  • I agree with everything you say, but I do think that they will be eliminating the #200 bus soon. So, they do cut service at times.

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