Regional and Sub-Regional Performance Measures
RTA staff has undertaken the development of a performance measurement and reporting program to evaluate the impact and effectiveness of public transit in Northeastern Illinois. Overall performance is a function of five major areas:
- Service Coverage
- Service Efficiency and Effectiveness
- Service Delivery
- Service Maintenance and Capital Investment
- Service Level Solvency
As part of its oversight function to support the evaluation and management of the region’s public transit system, while emphasizing both transparency and accountability, the RTA has developed two reports to present performance data culled from the National Transit Database. The Regional Report Card aggregates data from CTA, Metra, and Pace, and assesses how all three agencies, taken together, are meeting the transit needs of the region. The second performance measurement report is the Sub-Regional Report, which covers the same five service areas noted above, but presents them for each Service Board and mode (bus, rail, dial-a-ride, vanpool, and ADA paratransit).
2013 Regional Report Card and Sub-Regional Report Results
The time period covered in this report (2009-2013) was marked by a regional economy that has been recovering from the Great Recession of 2008-2009. Overall, results for 2013 indicate that the positive turnaround of transit performance that began in 2011 and continued throughout 2012 was followed by a downturn in 2013 as ridership fell, producing ripple effects throughout the RTA system.
Key takeaways from the reports:
- Ridership experienced losses following the economic recession then rebounded in 2011 and 2012, with 2012 achieving the highest ridership levels since 1990. In 2013, ridership fell subsequent to the CTA fare increase in January 2013, the five-month shutdown of the south branch of the Red Line for complete reconstruction from May through October, and the coldest fourth quarter in over a decade. However, the five-year trend for ridership is positive, ending 2.3% higher than 2009.
- Operating costs have been kept under control. Over the past five years, the Service Boards implemented a variety of efforts to control costs, including: service cuts, service streamlining, new labor contracts, more efficient dispatching, and reduced materials costs.
- On a less positive note, our region has experienced a steep drop in capital programming despite growing capital needs. We face a $33.5 billion need over the next ten years, which includes a current backlog of $20.0 billion in already past-due projects.
- Across-the-board fare revenue increased for each mode at each Service Board in 2013 as well as over the five-year trend period, serving to balance riders’ contributions and public funding.
2012 Peer Performance Reports
The RTA also conducts analysis of the performance of our region relative to peer transit regions and operators through two reports: the 2012 Regional Peer Report Card and the 2012 Sub-Regional Peer Report. The reports are based on 2012 data published by the Federal Transit Administration’s National Transit Database (NTD) in December 2013. The 2012 Regional Peer Report Card reviews the performance of the primary transit providers for each of the top ten U.S. metropolitan statistical areas, with the Chicago region reported as an aggregation of data for CTA, Metra, and Pace. The 2012 Sub-Regional Peer Report provides performance results at the individual mode level – urban bus, heavy rail, commuter rail, suburban bus, vanpool, and demand-response/ADA paratransit – comparing the performance of each individual mode to five similar peers. The reports found that:
- The Chicago area’s mass transit system performs well when it comes to efficiency, cost and reliability;
- RTA riders collectively traveled more than 4 billion miles a year, ranking second only to New Yorkers who traveled 17.9 billion miles on public transit;
- The Chicago area lags other metropolitan regions in the level of capital invested in public transit per resident.
2012 Regional Peer Report Card
2012 Sub-Regional Peer Report
Strategic Performance Measures
To establish a benchmark and create a means for measuring how well the region is progressing in its transit strategic goals, the Board of Directors of the RTA has adopted a set of Strategic Performance Measures. The Strategic Performance Measures are elements of the RTA's Strategic Plan . These measures also align with Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) Go To 2040: Comprehensive Regional Plan.
The 2012 Strategic Performance Measures Report is the first presentation of these measures. They are by definition strategic measures, intended to be updated only every five years. This time span is seen as appropriate for tracking and identifying long-term trends of the regional transit environment.
Three major regional trends identified in the 2012 report are:
- The continued under-funding of transit's capital needs will challenge the RTA system's ability to sustain and promote ridership growth.
- Transit is expected to play a key role in providing transportation options to an increasingly aging population.
- The region's transit system provides broad benefits to both riders and non-riders at regional and state levels, yet transit funding and revenue sources remain relatively constrained.
2012 Strategic Performance Measures Report
Regional Ridership Report
The 2012 Regional Ridership Report takes an in-depth look at the changing economic conditions of the region from 2008-2012 and the impact of the economic recession (2008-2009) on Service Board ridership. The report analyzes ridership by mode, line, and bus route group for CTA, Metra, Pace, and Pace ADA Paratransit from 2008-2012.
The results of this analysis indicate that:
- RTA system ridership, as a whole, is responding to improvements in the regional economy.
- CTA, Pace, and Pace ADA Paratransit all experienced positive ridership growth in 2012.
- Metra, which recorded positive ridership results in 2011, experienced negative growth in 2012 affected by the end of the Seniors Ride Free Program in late 2011 and implementation of a significant general fare increase in February 2012.
- Pace ADA Paratransit has increased significantly since 2010, averaging more than 7% growth in 2011 and 2012 (excluding companion rides).
2012 Regional Ridership Report