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RTA Peer Reports Show Region’s Transit System Ranks High in Service Coverage and Efficiency

March 16, 2017

Riders traveled more than four billion miles in 2015 for fifth consecutive year

(CHICAGO) - The Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) recently released its annual peer performance measure reports which examine Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), Metra and Pace performance in relation to comparable peer systems around the country.  The reports, which cover performance for the 2015 report year, show that the region’s system continues to perform well for measures relating to service coverage and efficiency and effectiveness. The Service Boards ranked in the top half of their peer groups for 14 of the 16 measures reviewed and in the top three for eight of those measures. The region’s peer group consists of Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC.

“Both of these reports reveal important data about transit in our region,” said Leanne P. Redden, RTA Executive Director.  “The Regional Report shows many of our peers our outspending us in terms of capital investment, which is a major concern when one looks at our State of Good Repair needs.  However, the Sub-Regional report data is a testament to the hard work of the three transit agencies, who continue to excel in service to our riders.”   

The Regional Peer Review evaluates how the region’s transit system, as a whole, performs among the top ten largest metropolitan regions in the U.S., with Chicago being the third largest. The Sub-Regional Peer Review examines how each of the Service Boards’ modes of transportation performs against five similar peer agencies.  Both reports use data submitted to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to ensure consistency and comparability.

Both reports use four categories for evaluating performance:

  • Coverage – describes how much service is provided to customers and the amount of service actually used
  • Efficiency and Effectiveness – evaluates the level of resources spent on delivering service
  • Service Maintenance and Capital Investment – refers to the allocation of capital funds to replace and maintain infrastructure components
  • Solvency Measures – refer to financial condition and the ability to meet operational and capital needs.


Regional Peer Review highlights include:

  • Chicago retained its top-ranked position for operating cost per passenger mile for the fifth consecutive year, indicating the provision of cost-effective service throughout the region.
  • RTA region’s transit riders traveled more than four billion miles a year for the fifth consecutive year; only New York ranked higher with 18.5 billion miles traveled.
  • The Chicago region gained three rank positions for the performance measure miles between major mechanical failures, improving 33% compared to 2014 and returning to first-place rank for this metric, which it had held 2009-2012.
  • The Chicago region ranked fifth for capital program expenditures per area resident, dropping to $82 in 2015, about 40% of New York’s capital expenditures per resident.


Sub-Regional Peer Review highlights include:

  • CTA bus remained a top performer, exceeding or equaling the peer average in nine of 11 measures.
  • CTA bus retained its top ranked performance for operating cost per vehicle revenue hour for seven years in a row, and the top fare recovery ratio for the sixth consecutive year.
  •  CTA bus has only two areas where it doesn’t meet or beat the peer average – miles between major mechanical failures and capital fund expenditures per passenger trip.
  • CTA rail outperformed its peers for 5 of 11 measures, including top ranking for two service efficiency and effectiveness measures:  operating cost per vehicle revenue hour (for the 7th consecutive year) and operating cost per passenger mile (for the 5th consecutive year).  It also ranked first for miles between major mechanical failures for the 5th consecutive year.
  • CTA added 120 new rail vehicles into service in 2015, keeping its fleet the youngest of its peers – as recently as 2012, CTA ranked last for having the oldest rail fleet.  From 2011-2015, CTA added 704 new rail cars into its active fleet
  • Metra performed better than the peer average and either met or beat the peer average for all five service coverage and efficiency and effectiveness measures, including maintaining top rank for passenger trips per vehicle revenue hour.
  • Metra retained its second-place ranking for operating cost per passenger trip for the fifth consecutive year.  Although Metra lost one rank position for operating cost per vehicle revenue hour and operating cost per passenger mile, performance remained at or above the peer average for both measures.
  • With an average fleet age of 25.8 years, Metra’s revenue vehicles are seven years older than the peer average and rank fifth compared to peers.  Throughout 2015, Metra continued replacing Electric District rail cars, a project completed in early 2016.
  • Pace bus serves a geographical area more than triple the size of its next most comparable peer; lower population density require Pace to operate more service to achieve similar ridership levels to its peers.
  • Pace bus retained its first place ranking for operating cost per vehicle revenue hour for the seventh consecutive year and second place rank for operating cost per passenger mile for the fourth year, measures of efficiency and effectiveness.
  • Pace vanpool’s strength also lies in its low operating cost per vehicle revenue hour, ranking first or second for this measure for each of the past seven years.
  • Pace ADA paratransit performed as well as or better than the peer average for nine of ten performance measures.
  • Pace has the youngest ADA paratransit fleet of its peer group but has ranked fifth for miles between major mechanical failures for six consecutive years, the only metric for which Pace ADA ranks in the bottom third.

For more information about the RTA’s 2015 Regional Peer Review and 2015 Sub-Regional Peer review visit the RTA website.

Press Information

Melissa Meyer

Communications Manager
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