We're No. 6! CTA ranks behind NYC, San Fran in transit score

The CTA ranked a decidedly middling No. 6 in transit score among big cities, behind New York City, San Francisco, Boston, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia, as determined on a scale developed by Redfin.

New York’s Metropolitan Transit Authority earned 84.1 points out of 100, while the CTA got 64.7. According to Redfin:

The Transit Score algorithm calculates a score by summing the relative usefulness of public transit (bus, subway, light rail, ferry, etc.) routes near a given location. Usefulness is defined as the distance to the nearest stop on the route, the frequency of the route, and type of route (with twice as much weight given to heavy/light rail than to bus service). Transit Score is based on data published in General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) format by transit agencies across the country. For a more details on the Transit Score methodology, click here.

The 64.7 Redfin score means Chicago has “good transit – many nearby transportation options.”

Both Chicago’s Walk Score and Bike Score surpassed the Transit Score, at 75 and 70 respectively.

However, Chicago’s Loop neighborhood earned an off-the-charts 99.1 score.

I guess we’re not the Second City anymore.


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  • 1. I guess CTA gets hoisted based on the statistics it gave Google. Thus, I suppose the methodology could be questioned.
    2. However since the second world has better transit, I can't argue with the results.
    3. By city, Chicago is actually14th, as they count places like Cambridge Mass. separately. Chicago is between Newark and State College, Pa.

  • In reply to jack:

    I added "among big cities" in the lead sentence to clarify how the CTA is No. 6.

  • In reply to Kevin O’Neil:

    O.K. I had seen that on the home page of the linked story but had decided to click further through.

  • As a former DC transit rider I disagree with that one. It's been too long since I've ridden in NYC or SF to argue those.

  • In reply to Kim Z Dale:

    Basically because of DC's numbering (each short turn has its own route number, and they never consolidated the acquired systems) the bus system is too confusing. I remember when the buses had 3 or 4 roll signs just for the route number. Metro seemed better, but the reports on the wrecks indicate that they let maintenance go to heck.

  • In reply to Kim Z Dale:

    I love SF (live there/here now) but the transit isn't one of its best features. Some of it's okay and I enjoy seeing the varying historic streetcars they run down Market now but it's slow and limited.

  • Chicago is wonderful if you simply need to get to/from downtown. However, crosstown trips are a nightmare. As we've discussed numerous times here, there is a need for a crosstown L link running along Ashland or Western, allowing one to cut directly from the northwest side to the southwest side.

    Also, due to the independent development of the L and commuter rail, transferring between them is a PITA. Ideally, there would be L stops at Union and Ogilve stations. The Loop Link project should help, but it's only a band-aid.

    Lastly, getting from the commuter stations to North Michigan Ave is a pain. It would be nice to have a bus or light rail link running on Lower Wacker Dr from Van Buren to Lake Shore Dr. or Navy Pier.

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    As part of the Union Station upgrades, I think they are targeting linking the Clinton stop to Union Station underground. It's not too long of a walk, so I think this could work well.

    As for getting east from the commuter stations, I think that's what the Loop Link project is addressing.

  • In reply to chris:

    There is supposed to be an underground link between Union Station and the bus transit center. I'm not aware of any proposed link between the transit center and Clinton subway.

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    In reply to SpinyNorman:

    Apart from New York, all of the cities ranking above Chicago have poor crosstown connections (and east-to-west stoplight timing and stop placement make crosstown trips in uptown Manhattan a time-consuming experience). Most cities with rapid transit and longer bus lines place emphasis on radial lines from downtown while failing to provide connections of similar quality between the lines outside the center of the city. This will have to change.

  • In reply to Peter Gordy:

    The rationale for the X bus system was to provide crosstown service where the L didn't run. That was destroyed in 2010, and the question is how well restoring X9 and X49 later this month will reverse the situation. Still doesn't do anything to reverse cancelling X80, for instance.

    As I understand the methodology of the survey, it uses only Google Transit data to figure out how near and frequently a bus goes by you, not the quality of service. Sure, the Loop rates 99.

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    There were proposals for that from the late 1980s, but the main one for the Monroe connector died about 1994, and the Loop Link (bus shelters in the middle of Washington seems the only current response.

    There are, of course routes 120 and 121 on lower Wacker. They used to serve Navy Pier, but were cut back to Fairbanks in 2012.

  • In reply to jack:

    Interesting, I didn't know about the 120 and 121 routes, as they are not listed on the CTA downtown map. 'Very odd. Is there a secret handshake one needs to ride?

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    "Rush Period Buses from Downtown Metra Train Stations" maps are at the bottom. There is a callout box in the downtown map on the "Routes Not Shown," which are below.

  • In reply to jack:

    Typical CTA knuckleheads. The "maps below" is only on the PDF version of the map. The online map does not have a link for the 4 additional routes.

    The standard maps show part time routes with white ovals, so why on earth aren't the four part-time commuter station routes also displayed?

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    Many Bostonian institutions are masters at presenting themselves as magnificent on paper while the reality is considerably less so, and their transit system, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) is certainly a major example of such institutions. It is, with a few exceptions for affluent and politically-connected neighborhoods (North Brookline, West Cambridge where tenured Harvard and MIT faculty live, South Boston, where the Bulger family that controlled the MBTA until recently), a terribly mismanaged system. A large number of bus lines are quite short and run one or two buses per weekday, which is not the case for the CTA, where the bulk of the bus lines are long and have short headways. Headways on most bus lines are so long that service to many stops is more theoretical than real. Beyond this, the MBTA's schedules, at least until recently (I lived in Boston from 1978 to June of this year), could have won a Pulitzer Prize for fiction, as the number of "missed trips" (no-show buses),cancelled commuter rail runs, and severe delays are legion, The MBTA's rapid transit lines are all badly overcrowded, even outside of rush hours. Some earlier commenters have questioned the survey's methodology, and I agree with them. New York City, San Francisco do have transit systems whose coverage and frequency surpass Chicago's (I have no personal experience with SEPTA in Philadelphia), but Boston does so only on paper. I would wonder about the data integrity of the referenced survey, if Boston were to rank above Chicago.

  • In reply to Peter Gordy:

    Note what I said in reply to your prior comment about the methodology.

    However, things are all relative, as frequencies on many CTA bus lines are about 1/3 of what they were 20 years ago, and there were 3 cutbacks (1997, 2010, and 2012). L resources have been concentrated on the Red and Brown Lines, to the detriment of others. Maybe all of these were rational responses to where the demand is, but certainly diminished CTA's coverage and frequency. I suppose similar thing have happened elsewhere.

  • In reply to jack:

    I would say that L resources are actually better on the Blue Line's O'Hare branch due to the fact that the CTA considers it a "prestige run", because it goes to the big, international airport.
    The Ravenswood also gets a lot of resources & even gets priority over SB Red Line Trains at Belmont & Fullerton, because those trains are deliberately slowed down between Belmont & Fullerton, so maybe 12 people that boarded at Wellington or Diversey can change & catch the train at Fullerton, thus delaying hundreds of riders to favor the few!

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    All the short turn trains on the Blue Line at UIC, and more relevantly, Jefferson Park, show that resources have been taken away from that line. Also, it is not a prestige run if it has consistently received the oldest equipment. Only "prestige" is that it costs $5 to board there.

  • In reply to jack:

    Except whenever there's been a system wide shutdown , such as a blizzard, the O'Hare line has been dug out first, even though the Red Line carries far more passengers.
    And I'll take the seating on the old 2600s over the wretched seats on the newer 5000s any day!

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    I honestly don't get the policy of waiting for trains coming in. If they just drop people off and keep going, it will all average out and the average transfer/wait times should actually be shorter. By having trains wait for incoming trains to arrive and riders to transfer, they create an accordion effect, which slows down everyone's commute. Sure, it seems better when you're on the incoming train but it also contributes to all those times you're standing on the platform and waiting a long time, because trains started bunching up due to one sitting and waiting for incoming transfers.

  • Why is there no bus service on Clybourn, or Elston? Both are *major* retails strips with no bus service. The Goose Island Express runs down Clybourn for a short stretch, but it's not particularly useful.

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    There was a JARC grant for Elston south of Diversey, but CTA never put up the 50% local match. There is also the question whether a bus would adequately serve the big box stores separated from the street.

    Goose Island Express is there only because Wrigley pays for it (contract route).

  • With real estate booming on the near west side, it would be nice if they built a Pink Line station at Madison/Monroe and Ashland (Ogden) to serve the United Center. Bronzeville could also use a Green Line station at 28th St. It's too far between Cermak and 35th St.

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    What's the traffic generator at 28th, other than Mercy Hosp. at 26th? (Not that I buy that Cermak serves McCormick Place or Motor Row.)

  • I now live in San Francisco (I still read Chicago-related news and this because Chicago is great) and there's no way that San Francisco's transit should rate higher than Chicago's. It's slow and a large portion of a fairly geographical small city has no train access. Buses are relatively frequent (almost Chicago-level frequency) but the traffic is so bad that the average speed for both the buses and the at-grade trains/streetcars is literally just above walking speed at many times of the day. The Muni trains are only grade separated for very small distances and are buses for most of their routes. BART is relatively quick when there isn't one of the many regular delays for homeless people walking onto the tracks or any of the other things that regularly happens. There are many good things about SF but the transit isn't one of them. In fact, on that list, NYC (and maybe DC) is the only one that should rank above Chicago, even with all its flaws.

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