RTA Regional Ridership Trends

1st Quarter 2018 Regional Ridership Trends

Using data from the National Transit Database (NTD), we can see first quarter regional ridership results over a 15-year period.

Ridership for the first quarter of 2018 totaled 136.4 million trips, which was 1.8% lower compared to the first quarter of 2004.

Compared to the first quarter of 2017, ridership for the first quarter of 2018 was 4.0% lower, a difference of 5.6 million trips.

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1st Quarter Ridership Change (RTA System Ridership by Mode)

1st Quarter 2018 RTA System Ridership by Mode

This chart shows RTA system first quarter 2018 ridership by mode, represented by the blue bars. The orange dot within each bar represents the peer average ridership performance for that mode. Our Service Boards’ performance was favorable to peer averages for five of six modes.

Compared to 2017, CTA bus ridership is down 4.7%, and CTA rail ridership is down 3.5%. CTA bus and CTA rail ridership losses were somewhat favorable compared to their peers (with an average loss of 9.3% and 4.5%, respectively). Each of the bus and heavy rail peer agencies reported ridership losses for first quarter 2018.

Metra ridership was down 3.1%, about one percentage point lower than the peer average. Only one commuter rail peer agency reported a ridership gain for first quarter 2018, SEPTA, which had a significant boost in February related to its Super Bowl parade.

Pace bus showed a 4.2% ridership decrease from first quarter 2017, which was better than the peer average loss of 5.6%. Vanpool experienced a ridership drop of 1.9%, whereas its peer average loss was 8.2%. ADA Paratransit ridership increased by 3.6%, compared to a peer average decrease of 2.7%.

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1st Quarter Peer Region Ridership

1st Quarter 2018 Peer Region Ridership

This chart shows year-over-year regional ridership, using the same peer metropolitan areas that we use in our annual Peer Review. Each region recorded ridership losses for the quarter.

The Chicago region ranks third of the ten regions, with a 4.0% ridership decrease versus the average regional peer ridership loss of 7.2%.

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1st Quarter Regional Performance

1st Quarter 2018 Regional Performance

First quarter performance has some favorable performance for two measures, shown by green arrows … with one red arrow showing unfavorable performance.

The three black arrows—shown for vehicle revenue hours, vehicle revenue miles, and operating cost per vehicle revenue hour—indicate performance roughly equal to the prior year.

Regional operating costs, after being adjusted for inflation, were held to a 0.7% increase. Ridership, however, was a full 4.0% lower compared to the first quarter of 2017. The operating cost per passenger trip of $4.94 was 3.4% (or $0.16) higher compared to 2017.

Following fare increases at all three Service Boards in the first quarter, each reported improved fare revenues. Region-wide, the fare revenue per passenger trip, or average fare, was $1.74 for the first quarter, an 8.2% improvement over the first quarter of 2017.

The fare recovery ratio as shown here reflects the ratio of fare revenue to operating expense, without any credits or exclusions. A recovery ratio of 34.5% is one percentage point higher compared to 2017, resulting from improvement for fare revenue and cost containment on the expenditure side.

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