Thursday, November 29, 2012

Transit Ridership in Chicago since 1981

I plotted this graph using the ridership data provided by the The Regional Transportation Authority (RTA). The graph shows the total system ridership including Pace, Metra, CTA rail, and CTA bus in terms of annual unlinked passenger trips in millions over years since 1981. Transit ridership in Chicago was declining (on average) from 1981 to 1995. Since 1995, transit ridership is picking up again but it is far from its historical peak in 1981 with more than 800 millions unlinked trips. There is also a small peak in 2008 which is perhaps associated with the increase in gas prices. Also, note that the increasing trend in system ridership comes mostly from the roughly constant increase in CTA rail and Metra usage. Ridership for Pace and CTA bus services remains almost constant since 1995.

The question is whether the ridership continue to increase? What can planning and transit agencies do to maintain this increasing trend? What are the factors affecting transit ridership in Chicago?

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