The Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) has released its annual performance measure reports:  the Regional Report Card, which looks at regional transit performance, and the Sub-Regional Report, which examines each mode individually. Both reports study the region's transit system performance trends from 2009 to 2013 and compare year-over-year performance from 2012 to 2013.  These reports conclude that overall performance showed positive five-year trends, especially in the areas of ridership and operating costs.  Capital funding continues to present the most pressing challenge to each of the Service Boards and the region as a whole.

The Regional Report Cards shows that in 2012, the region experienced a ridership level of 659 million, the highest since 1990.  The region then saw a decline in ridership in 2013, with ridership numbers affected by the six-month closure of the CTA Red Line South, a CTA fare increase, and unusually cold winter weather in the fourth quarter of 2013.  The reports also show that capital programming experienced wide fluctuations despite growing capital needs, dropping by more than half in 2013 from $2.2 billion to $882 million, primarily related to the lack of a consistent state capital program.  The Sub-Regional Report shows fare revenues trended positively for each mode at each Service Board, which reduces the reliance on public subsidy to fund transit operations.

Overall, the five-year ridership trend is positive.  Operating costs were largely kept under control due to service cuts, streamlining routes, negotiating new labor contracts, and reducing materials costs.   On a Service Board and mode basis, the report shows:

  • CTA rail ridership has grown by 13%;
  • Pace cost per passenger trip decreased by 7% on an inflation-adjusted basis between 2009 and 2013;
  • Metra’s fare recovery ratio, the amount of operating costs covered by fare revenues, increased by 3.6 percentage points from 43% in 2009 to 46.6% in 2013.

“The RTA is proud to produce this report. It looks carefully at how resources are being used by the Service Boards and presents data in an understandable format to assess ‘how we’re doing,’ both throughout the region and mode by mode in these important service categories,” said RTA Executive Director Leanne Redden. “The findings of these two reports demonstrate that the Service Boards are performing well given challenging funding circumstances, especially the critical need for sustained, adequate capital funds to maintain the transit system infrastructure.” 

The reports evaluate performance in the following five service areas:

Service Coverage, which monitors how much service is available to people in the region and how much of that service is used.

  • 2013 to 2012 comparison:  Transit capacity (trips) per resident and vehicle revenue miles per square mile improved in 2013 as more service was introduced.
  • Five-year trend:  The five-year trend is of less service, mainly resulting from service cuts in 2010 but overall the five-year trend for ridership is up. 

Service Efficiency and Effectiveness, which evaluates how much is spent on supplying service in relation to how much service is provided and consumed. 

  • 2013 to 2012 comparison:  Costs have been kept under control and expense growth has been reasonable.  The operating cost of providing a unit of transit service (cost per vehicle mile and cost per unit of transit capacity) decreased on an inflation-adjusted basis.

Service Delivery, which reflects the quality of the service delivered. Year-to-year fluctuation for both of these measures is small.

  • 2013 to 2012 comparison:  On-time performance and reportable incidents per 100,000 passenger trips is favorable for 2013.  Performance was reported at 87% in 2013 and the number of major safety and security incidents is fewer than nine per 10 million trips.
  • Five-year trend:   On-time performance and reportable incidents per 100,000 passenger trips were unfavorable for the 5-year trend.  On-time performance was slightly higher in 2009 at 88.7% versus 87.4% in 2013.  Reportable safety and security incidents were slightly lower in 2009 at eight per 10 million trips versus nine per 10 million trips in 2013. 

Service Maintenance and Capital Investment indicates the allocation of capital funds for the replacement and maintenance of vehicle fleets and infrastructure components.

  • 2013 to 2012 comparison: Maintenance and capital investment faced challenges in 2013 as the region’s capital program funding decreased by more than 59% from $2.2 billion to $882 million, while its capital funding needs grew.  However, there was a slight decrease in the percentage of vehicles beyond their useful life in 2013 with the delivery of new buses and rail cars.
  • Five-year trend:  As a result of improved vehicle fleets, the five year trend in miles vehicles traveled in service between mechanical failures improved.  Overall, the region has significant unmet capital funding needs comprised of a $20 billion backlog in already past-due projects and $13.4 billion in regular capital maintenance and replacement projects to reach a state of good repair over the next ten years.

Service Level Solvency assesses financial condition to ensure there are sufficient resources to meet budgetary needs.

  • 2013 to 2012 comparison:  Each of the Service Boards experienced improved fare revenues in 2013, with an overall improvement of 4.3% in 2013, largely due to CTA’s January fare increase.
  • Five-year trend:  New capital funding has decreased by 29% in the past ten years from $1.1 billion to $772 million system-wide and remains a serious challenge to meeting regional solvency.

The 2013 Performance Measure reports are based on data submitted by the Service Boards to the Federal Transit Administration’s National Transit Database (NTD) in April, 2014 and validated by a review process with NTD through August, 2014.  These reports are just two examples of performance measure reports produced by the RTA. Others include two peer reports:  Regional Peer Report Card and the Sub-Regional Peer Report, and the Strategic Performance Measures report.  The 2013 Performance Measure reports in their entirety can be found on the RTA website.

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Press Contact

With three transit systems and more than two million riders a day, there is always something interesting going on at the RTA. Get the latest scoop on everything all in one place. For all media inquiries, please contact Susan Massel, Director of Communications and Public Affairs, at 312-913-3256 or at communications@rtachicago.org.