Chicagoans wait 31 minutes per day for public transit

If it feels like you’re waiting a long time for that train or bus to come – you are! But not quite as long as fellow commuters in Los Angeles and Boston.

Chicagoans spend an average of 31 minutes waiting for public transit, and a total of almost two hours per day on their commute, according to survey by Moovit, a public transit app.

Still, with the CTA’s Bus Tracker and Train Tracker apps, it’s a wonder that wait times are that high. Though no doubt most of the waits are for the second leg of a transit trip.

Commuters wait to board a CTA Red Line train at the Belmont Street station. (Antonio Perez, Chicago Tribune)

Commuters wait to board a CTA Red Line train at the Belmont Street station. (Antonio Perez, Chicago Tribune)

The Moovit survey notes that the biggest frustration for riders in the U.S. was a lack of information – not knowing when or if the bus or train is going to arrive. This was considered more important than actual wait times, safety, overcrowding, and unfamiliar routes.

CTA riders are fortunate then that we have the tracker apps to help with that.

New Yorkers endured the longest commutes at 149 minutes. Barcelona and Milan commuters spent the shortest amount of time on public transit at 63 and 74 minutes per day, as well as waiting for trains and busses with wait times of 18 and 19 minutes respectively.

Chicago commuting times were the second shortest of the five U.S. cities surveyed. San Francisco residents “enjoyed” the shortest commutes at 104 minutes.


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  • I read the article and couldn't figure out if it proved anything. For instance, it said that the trackers cut down the time, but didn't really say if, despite the existence of trackers, people go to a Metra station 40 minutes in advance to catch a train that runs once an hour because they can't read the timetable, or transit is running so off schedule that one can't rely on a timetable or tracker prediction, such as during a snowstorm.

  • In reply to jack:

    It proves nothing. It lumped the data from all 3 transit agencies together. I'm sure wait times for Pace are higher and lower for Metra than the average. Read the Crain's article about it. Of course a commute to Naperville will take longer than mine within the city.

  • In reply to chris:

    It wasn't travel time, it was wait time.

    The only reasons wait time would be higher for Pace or Metra are the reasons I said above.

    If one wants to speculate about the statistical methodology, if they are using the rule of unlinked trips, as CTA does in the Ridership Report, CTA wait times would be much longer, because while one can use a Tracker to time the first boarding, you are essentially stuck waiting at transfer points, especially if the times noted by Scooter are correct.

  • In reply to jack:

    They discussed both travel and wait time.

  • In reply to chris:

    Since you mentioned it, I see the two hour commute reference. However, the emphasis of the original article in the Tribune (to which I don't see a link above) was waiting time as a percentage of total commuting time, not travel time itself.

    And, if you want to make an argument about Naperville, I'm pretty sure that a ride on a 75 mph express commuter train is a lot quicker than anything CTA can supply (schedule says 32 to 40 minutes).

  • I'm guessing they didn't include the insanely long waits on routes such as 4, 9, 22 & 36.
    I waited for a NB 9, at the medical district for 12 minutes, followed by a 20 minute wait for a NB 22 at Irving Park/Clark.
    I've often seen 30+ minute waits for 22s & even longer for a 36.
    I've never seen a NB 4 around 55th, without another one a block or so behind during the day.

  • Oh it's not the waiting it's the piss the smells the rude riders the employees who barely even know their names let alone can help you the stops and starts that funny little man named Forrest who should be forced to ride it in the winter at 2am transfers that may or may not appear on your card the hustlers the singers (good and bad) the pan handlers the preachers the Ho's (yes Ho's) of BOTH sexes the guardian angels who think their Clint Eastwood The police who think what the hell are you riding public transit for anyway get a car you ass and oh yeah the anticipated fare hike.

  • In reply to Craig Jackson:

    However, for that to be published, you would need a statistical measure for that, even if the statistical measure is flawed.

  • Everybody needs to just STFU.....

    We ARE going to bend ourselves over and Re-elect "Rahmbo", so why complain? (Just hope he uses protection)

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