CTA South Side ridership drops, but commuters using alternative Red Line service

While CTA ridership on the South Side has dropped by about 10 percent, most former Red Line south riders are taking advantage of free or discounted alternative service during the first part of the five-month track reconstruction project.

More than 42,000 customers are using the alternative service compared to the 46,000 “station entries” on the south Red Line in the month prior to the May 19 shutdown. This 10 percent decrease in ridership is “in line with CTA expectations for a project of this size and impact, and in line with temporary ridership declines from major CTA rail construction projects over the past decade,” according to a CTA new release.

Meanwhile, the impact of the project on overall ridership has been minor – a 0.6 percent in overall CTA average weekday ridership. In 2012, CTA ridership increased 2.4 percent. So I’m sure the folks at 567 W. Lake St. have got to be happy about these very slight declines in ridership figures.

To handle the diversion of Red Line South customers, the CTA implemented an extensive alternative-service plan that includes free shuttle buses between the Garfield elevated and southernmost Red Line stations; a local shuttle bus serving all stations between 95th and 63rd Streets; an express shuttle between Roosevelt and Chinatown-Cermak; and expanded bus service on several regular bus routes.

The CTA also is operating Red Line trains on Green Line tracks between Roosevelt and Ashland/63rd. To ease the impact on riders, the CTA is offering free entry to Red and Green Line trains at the Garfield elevated station, as well as 50-cent discounts on bus routes south of 63rd Street.

The CTA fully expects ridership on the Red Line south to bounce back to its previous levels – and perhaps even beyond that – once the project is completed on Oct. 19. The CTA cites similar project to rehab the Brown, Blue and Pink lines to back up that prediction.

“The investment CTA is making in the South Side by building a brand new railroad will speed up round-trips by as much as 20 minutes between 95th Street and downtown,” said CTA President Forrest Claypool. “It will provide customers with a smoother ride and fewer service interruptions through better reliability and on-time performance – attributes that we expect in the long run will actually grow ridership in the future.”

Here’s hoping Oct. 19 comes quickly with all these promises fulfilled.


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  • In the daytime, there are certainly an enormous number of people on the NB Garfield station now, as opposed to the pre-shutdown, when maybe 15 people where there. At least 100 last Monday around noon.

  • You knew I was going to bring this up.

    There were the news reports that Emanuel wouldn't let the Inspector General audit claims about savings from grid collection of refuse. Of course, CTA treats itself as being another similar fiefdom.

    Since "ridership" means boarding, actual ridership is down more than this, because someone who would have boarded from 63rd south and thus would have only one boarding to north of 47th now has to board a free shuttle and then board at Garfield, where the reports are that there are turnstiles.

    And, of course, no accounting on what all the counted free boardings are doing to the recovery ratio.

  • I think it's time for a bit of comment moderation here.

    In other words, time for Jack and Scooter to get their own blog.

  • In reply to johnmont:

    I am only pointing out that transit here is run by one board that is obviously politically corrupt, another political board that is obviously incompetent, and a third that admits that it is toothless. In the case of the political but incompetent board, all Scooter and I are saying is that the pronouncements of its PR department can't be taken at face value. Someone, though, can't handle that.

    I was going to suggest that the Pace board take over the functions of the other three, but since Brad Stevens has just been appointed to it, I can't either.

  • In reply to jack:

    I just read Clifford's memo & the Metra board makes the CTA's look honest & intelligent!
    Which is terrifying since we know it's anything but that!
    I didn't know Stephens had been appointed to the PACE board along with the ineffectual Chris Canning of Wilmette.
    I guess PACE will now have to run all of its purchases through The Outfit!

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    Since we don't want to bore certain readers here, I'll refer you to the chicagobus.org topic of Man vs. Board.

    But you will see:

    1. why I referred to one board as politically corrupt while the other as political and incompetent. Robbing the CTA did not graduate beyond quarters at the station agents' booths (not sure if it was Quarters Boyle).

    2. that two boards feel it is entirely o.k. to ignore their enabling statutes.

    The real question is whether anyone will do anything about the boards, or Mike Madigan. It certainly is time to blow up the 4 boards.

    But what outfit firm got the contract for the 91 CNG buses? It hasn't been posted yet. Maybe you were thinking more about office supplies.

  • I hear you johnmont. But I just make sure that they and all my commenters abide by one key rule - no name-calling on other commenters.

  • In reply to Kevin O’Neil:

    I don't mind opinionated commenters as long as they bring up a point that can be discussed and debated.

  • If you look at the shuttles ridership per station versus the rail ridership for that station you will see declines of 50 percent ridership at 79th, almost 50 percent declines at 87th, about a 1,000 less riders at 95th and 69th with about a 60 percent drop. Then you may ask where is the ridership? Both Ashland/63rd and Halsted/63rd have seen ridership gains, as well as the #29 with 2,000 more weekday riders, the #8 with 1,000 more riders, and even the #24 with 500 more riders. So I don't know if I would say the shuttles are a success, but the idea of the article is not to get you to look at the shuttle ridership, but the Red line's ridership.

  • In reply to Bushunter:

    There was the statement in the Press Release that the 90% was overall, including the parallel bus routes you mentioned. Obviously 8A will be up as being extended to 63rd. A question would be whether the L station at 63-Halsted is up a similar amount.

    As I mentioned elsewhere, 13 days won't tell the whole story. The June report, with a full month, will be more interesting.

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