Contact Contact

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

March 17, 2016

Riders traveled more than four billion miles in 2014 for fourth 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 2014 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 15 of the 16 measures reviewed and in the top three for seven of those measures. The region’s peer group consists of Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC.

“This report is an important element of the service the RTA provides to our region,” said Leanne P. Redden, RTA Executive Director.  “Despite capital funding challenges, our region continues to achieve high marks, which shows the solid performance of the Service Boards and confirms their ability to successfully operate our region’s transit system safely and efficiently.”  

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  ranked first for the lowest operating cost per passenger mile for the fourth consecutive year
  • RTA region’s transit riders traveled more than four billion miles a year for the fourth consecutive year; only New York ranked higher with almost 19 billion miles traveled.
  • Chicago-area transit experienced a drop in reliability in 2014 due to extreme ‘polar vortex’ weather events, yet remained in the top half of its peer group for the measure miles between major mechanical failures.; however, the Chicago transit system never completely shut down due to weather events, as some peer regions have opted to do when faced with similar challenges.
  • The Chicago region ranked fourth for capital program expenditures per area resident, dropping to $84 in 2014, less than half 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 ten of 11 measures.
  • CTA bus retained its top ranked performance for operating cost per vehicle revenue hour for six years in a row, and the top fare recovery ratio for the fifth consecutive year.
  •  CTA bus has only one area where it doesn’t meet or beat the peer average – for miles between major mechanical failures.  In 2014, over half of the CTA bus fleet had reached their mid-life and were due for overhauls, a process that was underway throughout 2014 and completed in 2015.  This measure was also heavily impacted by the polar vortex in 2014.
  • CTA rail outperformed its peers for 6 of 11 measures, including top ranking for two service efficiency and effectiveness measures:  operating cost per vehicle revenue hour (for the 6th consecutive year) and operating cost per passenger mile (for the 4th consecutive year).  It also ranked first for miles between major mechanical failures for the 4th consecutive year.
  • CTA added 224 new rail vehicles into service in 2014, making its fleet the youngest of its peers – just two years prior, CTA ranked last for having the oldest fleet.  CTA will continue to modernize its rail fleet, having just placed an order for 846 new rail cars to begin service in 2020.
  • Metra performed better than the peer average and ranked either first or second for all five service coverage and efficiency and effectiveness measures.
  • Metra maintained its top ranking for operating cost per passenger mile for the third consecutive year.
  • After two years with the oldest fleet among its peers, Metra moved up one rank position in 2014 and reduced its average fleet age by over four years, a significant change.    Just last month, Metra retired the last of its original Highliner cars, having replaced the entire Electric District fleet.  Metra has also identified a significant rail car purchase within its 2016 budget.
  • Pace bus retained its first place ranking for operating cost per vehicle revenue hour for the sixth consecutive year and second place rank for operating cost per passenger mile for the third year, measures of service efficiency and effectiveness.
  • Pace bus maintained its second place ranking for miles between major mechanical failures for which it has ranked in the top three for the past six years.
  • 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 six years.
  • Pace ADA paratransit performed as well as or better than the peer average for nine of ten performance measures.
  • Pace ADA paratransit service ranked either second or third for each measure of service coverage, service efficiency and effectiveness, and solvency.

For more information about the RTA’s 2014 Regional Peer Review and 2014 Sub-Regional Peer review, visit


About the RTA

The Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) is the only transit agency charged with regional financial oversight, funding, and transit planning for the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), Metra and Pace bus and paratransit.    The RTA region serves two million riders each weekday in six counties with 7,200 transit route miles throughout Northeastern Illinois.  The Agency also provides customer services including on-line and telephone travel planning assistance and travel training for seniors and people with disabilities.  For more information, visit

Press Information

Melissa Meyer

Communications Manager
Copyright © 2024 Regional Transportation Authority. All Rights Reserved.