CTA rider satisfaction drops slightly from 2011 to 2014

CTA rider satisfaction dropped a few percentage points between 2011 and 2014, according to a Sun-Times story, though overall satisfaction still remains high.

The 2014 survey showed that 77 percent of riders were satisfied with CTA service – a drop of four percentage points from 2011, when 81 percent reported being satisfied.

Notably, satisfaction with bus service fell by 5 percentage points, from 80 percent satisfied in 2011 to 75 percent in the 2014 survey. This reduction came despite 2013 efforts to reduce crowding on both buses and trains. The drop in satisfaction also may have been caused by lingering dissatisfaction with the 2013 rebuild of the southern end of the Red Line. The CTA used a cadre of bus shuttles to ferry South Side passengers to the Loop. South Side passengers were the least satisfied with their service.

The CTA’s response, from the Sun-Times story:

The results are in line with the ratings of peers in New York, San Francisco and New Jersey, CTA spokeswoman Tammy Chase said.

Chase called the 4 percentage point drop in overall satisfaction “slight.” She tied the May-to-August 2014 survey results to the brutal early winter months of 2014 and the bumpy rollout of the CTA’s Ventra fare payment system, which Chase said “fully launched successfully in July.”

Chase cautioned the survey was a mere “snapshot in time” and said CTA officials are “constantly working to improve service to our customers, and have done so in recent years in a number of ways.”

Given the Ventra rollout, I’d say the CTA held its own on this satisfaction rating.


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  • All this proves is:
    1. Tammy Chase will say anything. If she were a meteorologist, she probably would characterize a Ground Hog Day Blizzard (2011 or 2015) as "flurries."

    2. On the other hand, riders, other than on the far south side (according to the S-T), don't appear that discriminating. Maybe they realize they are getting their $1.12 worth. Undoubtedly, consumers at Dollar Tree are also satisfied.

    In any event, on Wednesday, the head of the CTA, Rahm Emanuel, can go back to another 3 years and 9 months of not listening. Maybe you can take credit that in July 2011, you were treated to the first, but not last, example of that. I'm somewhat surprised that CTA was not an issue in this campaign. Maybe Chuy had plans to make Todd Stroger the CT Chairman.

  • In reply to jack:

    Well, that would explain why Garcia did better than 25% in the higher-number parts of the South Side - all those County hacks wanting their bread buttered.

  • In reply to urbanleftbehind:

    25% isn't 50% plus one.
    The Strogers and Jacksons probably don't outnumber their neighbors of whom they took advantage.
    What percentage did Willie Wilson get? I understand he is part of the management that won't accede to Lucha por 15 dinero.

  • In reply to jack:

    Willie got most of his high % in wards touching Englewood and in the deep West Side, though yes I do think this is an "Uncle Ruckus" vote looking for an outlet, any outlet to vent.

    Does he run the Mickey D's that are "black" front and back? They take too damn long with my order and its not like they get it 100% right either.

  • In reply to urbanleftbehind:

    The only thing indicated in biographical piece is that he started at the bottom but became a manager when everyone else walked out, eventually owned a number of franchises on the south side, but sold them some time in the 1990s. Then he went into the plastic glove business, apparently as a middleman between manufacturers in China and purchasers such as McDonalds and Walmart.

  • Until they solve the bus bunching problem, they'll never really solve the overcrowding problem. If you have the lead bus packed like a sardine can, then more times than not the trailing buses will be mostly empty. Of course, if you bypass the first bus there's no guarantee the following buses will have room, so pack another one on the first bus.

    In addition, as I've noted numerous times, the Ventra card has certainly slowed boarding times, leading to bus bunching, and frustrated passengers. Until they rewrite the software to allow the rider to board with a 'Go' when the signal is poor/non-existent, they'll continue to get failing grades in my book. It should not require multiple attempts to board the bus due to wireless signal problems.

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    The best solution to bus bunching is to bring back the street corner supervisors.
    They were constantly flipping buses & moving passengers to the ones that were to continue on.
    Even though the CTA control center can see where every bus is [except the ghost buses] they never, ever flip buses to fix the problem.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    I assume the passengers on the less crowded trailing bus were a bit peeved when they were told to shift to the lead bus, and try to find a seat.

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    It's slightly annoying to a few, but better for the majority.
    I've been one of the few, but it's still best for the majority of riders.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    I was on a lead bus the other day, and the driver actually drove past a waiting passenger at a bus stop, and allowed the following bus to pick him up. This is the first time I've seen that.

    I think the drivers could do a few small things to help. I was on a trailing bus last week, and the driver accelerated through a yellow light, instead of stopping. With a lead bus less than a block in front of him, there was no reason to rush through the light. Are the drivers dinged when they fall behind their own schedule? I can't think of another reason for the behavior other than the driver didn't want to get in trouble for failing to keep his run's schedule.

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    As far as I've been told by a former bus driver, they are only dinged for being early at a time point.
    But I've been on many buses where the driver passed up waiting passengers & usually gave a hand signal that another bus was right behind.
    I've also been on buses where the driver has let passengers off on the wrong corner & then passed up waiting passengers in an effort to catch up.
    Remember, on most buses, you can see the display over the driver's head & know just how late, early or on time the bus is. The worst I've seen is over 30 minutes late, but I've read about buses over an hour late.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    I'm curious how a driver knows if there's a trailing bus. Is it visual sighting only, or does the command center communicate with the drivers and let them know they are bunched? I'm assuming it's visual only.

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    My guess is they just look in the rear view mirror. Or in many cases, they leapfrog each other, so they know there's another bus.

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    Yes, I assume that's correct. The driver doesn't know there's an issue until it's more or less too late to do anything about it.

    Now, if the operations center would use the bus tracking system to identify potential bunching, and alert the lead drivers that there is a bus behind them, the driver could do something pro-active to help increase the gap, e.g. skip a stop.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    So would a Street Corner Supervisor get a "combat" premium if he/she was assigned to Jack's modern day OK Corral - 71st and Jeffrey (although there sometimes seems not to be enough buses on either the J or the 15 to even get bunched).

  • In reply to urbanleftbehind:

    I only see the J14s at Madison/Canal or Madison/Clinton & they sure are bunched up there in the morning!

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    In the post PM-rush evening, the J14s have a tendency to "disappear" (not be at the route's West Loop origination point at times indicated on the BusTracker) resulting of waits of 1 hour + at Washington/Jefferson. My sister, who works downtown and utilizes the J14 is a known caller at the RTA hotline because of this. Do J14's get pulled into United Center or other shuttle services on short notice?

  • Yes, the bus boarding needs to give a 'Go' signal when connectivity is poor, with the ability to store transactions until getting a better wireless signal. In functionality, it would be like sending a text in the backround without having to have to retype it. The transactions/messages would be sent when a better wireless signal becomes available, and should be within minutes, if not seconds after getting the 'Go' signal. It would require testing and verification, but would be much, much better than the refusal of service due to a less efficient boarding process compared to pre-Ventra days.

  • In reply to JohnT:

    Yup. If a response is not received by the server in 500 milliseconds, the reader should display the 'Go' screen, and queue the request for a retry. It's not rocket science.

    Yes, a small percentage of riders with expired or underfunded accounts may slip through the cracks. So what. The number should be miniscule.

  • I hopped on the #66 bus yesterday morning, and I was surprised to find the air conditioning on. Wonderful! Glad to see somebody paying attention to the weather forecast. I can't wait to retire to Arizona and its low humidity.

    Of course, when I hopped on the bus in the evening for the trip home, the heat was cranked, even though it was warm and humid outside. The bus felt like a sweat lodge. Sigh.

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    Is the #66 still the young people's best hook-up bus? For many years the 151 held that distinction.

  • In reply to urbanleftbehind:

    Lol. Well, given that it's generally standing room only, I don't see how one can "hook up". You might be able to get a cheap feel, however.

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