CTA complaints: the hows, the whys and the whats

CTA’s crackdown last week on operators using electronic devices made me wonder about CTA complaints in general and the discipline process specifically. So I asked the CTA about both, and here’s what I learned.

First, about half of the complaints and inquiries to CTA customer service (1-888-968-7282) are related to account management for Chicago Card/Chicago Card Plus. These include questions about the cards as well as complaints. (ie., replacing expiring cards).

Next highest complaints and calls regard fares, such as requests for refunds or reporting cards that were caught in equipment.

So, leaving those out of the mix, here are the top five complaints for all of 2008, and the first six months of 2009. (I asked for comparative figures with the first six months of 2008, but the CTA did not provide those.)




Service Delays



Pass Ups



Rude Operators



Failure to Assist Customers



Reckless Driving




2009 (Jan-Jun)


Pass Ups



Rude Operators



Service Delays



Reckless Driving



Failure to Assist Customers



So what are we to make of this? Some observations:

  • On an annualized basis, complaints in general are down. There were a total of 9,170 complaints in these categories in 2008, and 3,685 for the first six months of 2009. Double that number and we would get 7,370 complaints. That would be about a 20% drop this year in these top complaints if this holds for the rest of the year. Time will tell if complaints do drop by that much.
  • Service delay complaints are way down, no doubt thanks to the end of three-tracking on North Side, and the full rollout of Bus Tracker this year.
  • Pass-ups complaints (buses passing riders) have drifted to the top this year, though there appear to be fewer than last year.
  • There continue to be about the same number of complaints about rude operators, though just a bit fewer this year.

Tune in again tomorrow, when we’ll discuss the discipline process and throw a few other figures at you.

Filed under: CTA in the news

Tags: complaints, CTA


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  • And then this could actually be showing that people have just stopped complaining because they know it won't do any good.


  • In reply to KevinB:

    To be fair, you'd have that affect every year.

  • In reply to sargas:


    I emailed and called for about 3 years and then gave up. Is it a statistical likelyhood that someone came in at the same rate to pick up my slack?

  • In reply to KevinB:

    Statistics isn't about you, KevinB. You have no effect on whether anyone else calls or when.

  • In reply to KevinB:

    I'd be interested in knowing what the definition of 'pass up' is. I've been steps from the bus stop and had them go by--I wouldn't count that as being passed up, but I would guess some people call to complain when they weren't actually at the bus stop.

  • In reply to Cheryl:

    A bus passup is when a bus cannot stop to accept waiting riders because it is full.

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