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).
2012 Regional Report Card and Sub-Regional Report Results
The time period covered in this report (2008-2012) was marked by large fluctuations in gas prices, rising health care costs, and a significant and long-lasting economic recession that produced historic levels of unemployment and lowered sales tax revenue (the primary funding basis for public transit). The economic crisis felt throughout the nation was also felt by the regional Service Boards. Fare increases were instituted by CTA and Pace in 2009, service cuts followed in 2010, and Metra implemented a fare increase in 2012. However, 2011 saw a rebound that continued into 2012: each Service Board and mode reported ridership gains for 2012 for a system-wide gain of 2.7% compared to 2011, as the region continued to realize job gains and experience steady increases in gasoline prices. Each Service Board and mode also had improved fare revenues compared to 2011, and the Service Boards continued their efforts to stem operating cost increases. Overall, the Chicago regional transit system performance exhibited declining trends in 2009-2010, followed by upswings in 2011 and 2012 which resulted in positive five-year trends for many of the performance measures compared to 2008.
Key takeaways from the reports:
- After two years of declines following the economic recession in 2008 and 2009, ridership growth in 2011 and 2012 resulted in the highest ridership levels achieved since 1990.
- 2012 marked a year of improvement in Miles between Major Mechanical Failures, the result of investments in new bus and rail fleets, and indicative of a more reliable fleet.
- The large 25% fare increase implemented at Metra in 2012 contributed to significant growth in regional fare revenues.
- On a less positive note, our region continues to face significant shortages in the capital funding needed to bring the system to a State of Good Repair. We face a $31 billion need over the next ten years, which includes a current backlog of $18.7 billion in already past-due projects.
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