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Regional Public Transit System Ranks High Among Peers

April 19, 2018


Today we released two reports that focus on how the Chicago region's transit agencies perform in comparison to their peers: the 2016 Regional Peer Review and 2016 Sub-Regional Peer Review. The Regional Peer Review looks at the primary transit agencies that serve the ten largest US metropolitan areas, of which Chicago is the third largest.  The Sub-Regional Peer Review looks at each service mode separately, comparing the Chicago mode’s performance to five comparable peers. The reports are based on data submitted by the Service Boards to the Federal Transit Administration’s National Transit Database (NTD).

Overall, the Chicago region is a strong performer, ranking in the top half for 14 out of 16 performance measures and in the top three out of seven of them; Chicago did not rank in the bottom three for any of the measures contained within the report.  The Chicago region performed particularly well for having the lowest operating cost per passenger mile (for the sixth consecutive year!) and we ranked second for annual ridership for the first time since regional reporting began, overtaking Los Angeles.

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. It’s important that we make the right investments to not only maintain our excellent standing among our peers but also bring our region’s public transportation into the future. Invest in Transit our new strategic plan, makes the case for dependable funding for public transit investments.

On a sub-regional level, the Chicago operators continue to show strong performance in measures of service efficiency and effectiveness. Here are some highlights from each transit agency:


  • 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).


  • 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.


  • 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 ADA Paratransit continued to rank well among its peers, meeting or beating the peer average for 9 of 10 performance metrics.

Current and past performance reports can be found on the RTA website at:

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