CTA ridership in the first quarter of the year was down just 0.2%
compared to the same period in 2009. That’s surprising, considering that
on Feb. 7, bus service was cut almost 20% and rail service about 10%.
ridership stats reported at Wednesday’s CTA board meeting show that bus
patronage is down across the board — during weekday rush hours,
weekday off-peak, and on weekends and holidays. No shocker there,
considering the abovementioned cuts in bus intervals and start/stop
times — plus the elimination of nine express bus routes.
the CTA system buses arrive less frequently and are more crowded when
they do show up. As a result, the stats show, more riders are switching
to rail service when they can during the three key ridership periods.
Rail ridership was up almost 1% in the first quarter during the weekday rush period. But the real rail ridership growth was at off-peak times on weekdays and on weekends — 4.6% and 4.7% growth respectively.
So why is that? For the off-peak increase, I still attribute it to folks trying to avoid crowded buses. On the weekends, there are a number of reasons for the increased ridership:
- The completion of the Brown Line expansion project.
- People visiting the city “get it” that the CTA is a cost-effective way to tour the city.
- This 10-year trend continues — weekend ridership has grown 28% over the last decade.
What do you think? Why is ridership up on the rails? And down overall, but just slightly?