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).
2011 Regional Report Card Results
Overall, the performance measures in this report show many positive trends for the RTA region for 2011 as well as over the full five-year period of the report (2007-2011), particularly in the areas of service consumption and cost effectiveness. Declines in performance in recent years have been noted in the areas of service coverage, cost efficiency, and service maintenance and capital investment, which can all be related to strategies that each Service Board has implemented to meet the continuing economic challenges following the financial crisis and recession that began in 2008.
2011 Sub-Regional Report Results
Following two years of ridership declines that resulted from fare increases, service cuts, and regional job losses, there was a rebound in 2011. Each Service Board reported ridership gains for the year for a net system-wide gain of 3.0% compared to 2010. By year-end 2011, the region was experiencing a marginal gain in jobs but a significant jump in gas prices (up 21.8% compared to 2010), which may have made transit use more appealing for the region’s riders but also served to negatively affect the costs of providing service. Each Service Board continued to control costs as much as possible throughout the year to accommodate moderate gains in public funding and to avoid further service reductions. Caution should be exercised in not directly comparing modes to each other, as each mode of service operates in a unique environment and cost structure. Rather, modes should be examined separately and compared to their own five-year performance, which is presented for each performance measure.
Both reports point to the continued and growing need for capital investment in the region’s transit infrastructure. At this point, there is an identified need of $18.5 billion to fund a backlog of projects that are already overdue. In addition, there is an estimated $12.4 billion in the region’s asset inventory that are scheduled for normal replacement and maintenance over the next ten years. With annual capital programs totaling roughly $1 billion per year, there is a critical need for more capital funds to bring the region’s transit infrastructure to a State of Good Repair.
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