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

April 19, 2018

CHICAGO - The Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) today 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 2016 report year, show that the region’s system continues to perform well for measures relating to service coverage and efficiency and effectiveness. The Transit Agencies ranked in the top half of their peer groups for 14 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.

“What we see with the regional peer review is that the Chicago region had a strong performance overall which is a testament to the hard work of the three Transit Agencies, who continue to excel in service to our riders,” said Leanne P. Redden, RTA Executive Director.  “But the same report also shows many of our peers outspending us in terms of capital investment, which is a major concern when one looks at our State of Good Repair needs.”

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 by population. The Sub-Regional Peer Review examines how each of the Transit Agencies’ 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: how much service is provided to customers and the amount of service actually used
  • Efficiency and Effectiveness: level of resources spent on delivering service
  • Service Maintenance and Capital Investment: allocation of capital funds to replace and maintain infrastructure components
  • Solvency: financial condition and the ability to meet operational and capital needs.

Regional Peer Review highlights include:

  • Coverage: Compared to its peer regions, Chicago placed in the top half for each measure of coverage.  The Chicago region ranked second for annual ridership for the first time since regional reporting began, overtaking Los Angeles.
  • Efficiency and Effectiveness: Chicago retained its top-ranked position for operating cost per passenger mile for the sixth consecutive year, indicating the provision of cost-effective service throughout the region.
  • Maintenance and Capital Investment: The Chicago region dropped three rank positions for the performance measure miles between major mechanical failures, decreasing 22% compared to 2015 and returning to fourth-place rank for this metric.
  • Solvency: On a per-passenger basis, Chicago’s ranking for capital expenditures dropped to sixth place; Chicago transit expends roughly 35% of what New York spends per resident for capital projects.


Sub-Regional Peer Review highlights include:



  • CTA bus remained a top performer, exceeding or equaling the peer average in eight of eleven measures.
  • For the eighth consecutive year, CTA bus retained its top-ranked performance for operating cost per vehicle revenue hour. 
  • The average CTA bus was 6.9 years old, the second-youngest average fleet age among its peers. 
  • CTA rail was top-ranked for two service efficiency and effectiveness measures:  operating cost per vehicle revenue hour (for the eighth consecutive year) and operating cost per passenger mile (for the sixth consecutive year). 
  • CTA rail maintained the top rank for average fleet age and for miles between major mechanical failures.



  • Metra retained its second-place ranking for operating cost per passenger trip for the sixth consecutive year.  Metra moved up one rank position for two other measures of efficiency and effectiveness:  operating cost per vehicle revenue hour and operating cost per passenger mile, for which Metra achieved top ranking.
  • With an average fleet age of 24 years, Metra’s revenue vehicles are four years older than the peer average and rank fifth place compared to peers. 


  • Pace bus serves a geographical area more than triple the size of its next most comparable peer; Pace retained its first-place ranking for operating cost per vehicle revenue hour for the eighth consecutive year and second-place rank for operating cost per passenger mile for the fifth year, measures of service efficiency and effectiveness. 
  • Pace added 59 new buses into its active vehicle fleet in 2016, resulting in an improved rank position for average fleet age.  Pace kept its third-place ranking for miles between major mechanical failures, for which it has ranked second or third for the past six years.
  • Pace vanpool performed favorably to the peer average for operating cost per vehicle revenue hour and operating cost per passenger trip.
  • Pace ADA paratransit performed as well as or better than the peer average for nine of ten performance measures.
  • Pace ADA paratransit service was the only agency among its peers to see a decrease in operating cost in 2016. 
  • Pace has the youngest ADA paratransit fleet of its peer group and moved up to fourth place for miles between major mechanical failures.

For more information about the RTA’s 2016 Regional Peer Review and 2016 Sub-Regional Peer review visit the RTA website.

Press Information

Melissa Meyer

Communications Manager
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