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Data show increased ridership on CTA, Metra, and Pace

September 21, 2023

22 RTA 1385

Ridership across Chicago’s transit system continues to increase to a post-Covid peak, according to recent data from CTA, Metra, and Pace. Combined, the system provided more than 6.8 million rides the week of August 21-27, 2023 — the latest week where ridership data is available for all three providers, up from 6 million rides the same week in 2022 and 4.9 million the same week in 2021. More ridership trends are available on the RTA State of Transit Dashboard.

The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) provided more than one million rides in one day on multiple occasions in late August and early September 2023, a sustained high since the pandemic began more than three years ago. CTA hit a daily ridership high on Thursday, September 7 with more than 1,033,000 rides.

“While special events have helped boost ridership on the weekends, hitting and exceeding the one million rides mark on weekdays is an encouraging sign that Chicagoland is back on board CTA’s buses and trains. We are thrilled to see more riders returning to the CTA,” said CTA President Dorval R. Carter, Jr. in a news release.

The last week of August and the first week of September were particularly strong for CTA ridership, which saw more than one million rides recorded on the four separate days. In between these record-breaking ridership days, overall ridership was higher-than-usual peaking at more than 964,000 rides on August 31, and more than 992,000 rides on September 1.

Students returning to classrooms for the 2023-2024 school year have helped contribute to this ridership jump, but monthly ridership data from the summer shows trends are headed in the right direction across the service boards.

August 2023 was Metra’s highest ridership month since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. That month Metra provided 3.1 million passenger trips, a 13 percent increase from the previous month and a 29 percent increase from the same time last year. Riding transit continues to be a smart alternative to driving during ongoing construction on the Kennedy Expressway. The Thursday of Lollapalooza (August 3) delivered Metra’s latest high ridership day for 2023, with 194,709 passengers.

Pace recovery has been steady, providing 1.2 million rides in the month of July 2023, and new innovations are bringing back more riders. For example, Pace launched Sunday-only service on the Pulse Dempster Line, one of its new rapid transit lines, in August and as a result, average Sunday ridership in the Dempster corridor was up 38 percent over August 2022. The agency also launched Pace Connect, a late night first mile/last mile service in the Rosemont and Harvey areas, which has seen continued growth with approximately 1,600 accounts created.

As more riders return to the region’s transit system, the RTA is committed to implementing Transit is the Answer, our plan with a vision for safe, reliable, accessible public transportation that connects people to opportunity, advances equity, and combats climate change. While increases in ridership are good for the region, that alone won’t solve the impending budget gap predicted for 2026 when federal Covid relief dollars run out. Learn more and join our coalition at

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Tagged in: CTA | Metra | Pace | RTA | Transit is the Answer

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