Overall CTA ridership increased 2.4 percent in 2012

Despite rail station closures for North Red Line renovations, and some bus eliminations very late in December, the CTA ridership ledger showed black ink again for 2012.

Overall ridership increased by 2.4 percent in 2012 over 2011, according to stats from the December 2012 ridership report. Ridership on the rails accounted for most of the increase – 4.2 percent more in 2012. The CTA ridership on the eight rail lines increased by almost 9.3 million in 2012. Last year there were two new stations opened — Oakton on the Yellow Line and Morgan on the Green/Pink/Blue lines.

Bus ridership grew just 1.1 percent last year — about 3.5 million more rides than in 2011.

Overall, there were 545 million rides taken in 2012, vs. 532 in 2011, or about 12.8 million more in 2012. The 545 million rides is the most rides for the CTA in more than 20 years.

In 2011, ridership increased about 3 percent over 2010. So while the 2012 percentage increase was smaller than that of 2011, the ridership total was greater.

Some other interesting tidbits from the report:

  • Ridership on the United Center Express bus increased by almost 30 percent in 2012 over 2011. Wassup with that?
  • The No. 11 Lincoln had 1.5 percent fewer riders in 2012 – 1.65 million in 2011 vs. 1.63 in 2012 – but it was eliminated Dec. 16. Might have broken even had it not been cut.
  • The South Side has the bus routes with the most riders. the No. 9 Ashland had 10.26 million riders in 2012, and the No. 79 79th Street bus had 10.2 million.
  • Of course, the Red Line is the rail work horse, with 75.8 million riders in 2012, almost a 2 percent increase over 2011.
  • Ridership on the Blue Line, the CTA’s next busiest, increased almost 7 percent in 2012 – from 40.3 million rides to 43.1 million.


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  • Of course the ride numbers are cooked by unlinked trips and estimating cross platform transfers.

    Maybe more telling is the Jan 2013 Budget Report that says that system revenue is up $17 million through Nov. compared to budget, but also that YTD expenses are up $10.8 million compared to budget. But that still should indicate that CTA is approx. $6 million ahead of plan.

    Meantime, I see that the Tribune has a headline quoting something vague Claypool said at Northwestern [the named source of the decrowding plan] that not even Aecom bought [i.e. a PPP doesn't work unless the Private makes money].

  • In reply to jack:

    Gotta link for the Tribune story you cite?

  • Jack, your conspiracy theories about "cooked" numbers don't really matter because they are comparing the same things year-over-year.

  • In reply to Kevin O’Neil:

    1. The headline is right at the top of ChicagoTribune.com.

    2. Unless there is proof that there is a science to counting cross-platform transfers, no. There is a mix of counting "entries through the turnstile" which may be mathematical, and "The 'Rail Boardings by Line' section shows a statistically valid estimate of the actual number of boardings onto each line" but certainly not exact. On the other hand, US$1 today is US$1 last December, disregarding the effects of inflation.

  • In reply to Kevin O’Neil:

    Besides that, the only thing that counts is whether someone dropped the money in the farebox or in buying a card, not whether someone got one or 3 rides for their $2.25. In the old days, CTA measured originating fares, not unlinked trips; even if the methodology is supposedly consistent now from year to year, the unlinked trips method in effect doubles the ridership.

  • UC express up 30% and that's without 2 months of hockey too

  • That is impressive; however the 2011 base number might have also been depressed due to the NBA lockout in November to Mid December of that year. It could be a latent indicator of "flash mob" fear - in years past, many suburbanites and near north denizens might have walked from downtown/river north to the UC.

  • More riders means there should be more seats. Instead the CTA is running trains with less seats on them. (I know, the logic is that more people can fit on a train when standing). But really, who wants to stand? People want to sit. If the CTA wants to see continued increase in ridership, they need more seats.

  • In reply to spudart:

    If people want to sit, they'll have to find an alternative, such as Metra or ZipCar.

    And CTA isn't in the business of attracting passengers. It only publishes these numbers to indicate that due to all the demand, it deserves a tax increase.

  • In reply to spudart:

    Or, short of that, "shuffling of resources" per the "crowd reduction plan."

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