CTA ridership rebounds with steady post-pandemic growth

Posted: 23 March 2023 | | No comments yet

CTA marks a steady post-pandemic recovery, as its ridership continues to grow, with an annual total of 243.5 million rides in 2022, an increase of over 47 million compared to the previous year.

CTA ridership rebounds with steady post-pandemic growth

The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) has announced that ridership on its public transport services continues to grow steadily, as Chicago and the surrounding metropolitan region recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2022, CTA annual ridership had reached 243.5 million, an increase of more than 47 million rides to the 2021 annual total of 196 million. In addition, CTA bus ridership reached 140 million in 2022, growing 19% from 2021 while rail ridership grew 32% in 2022 from 79 million to 104 million.

“As the region continues to emerge from the pandemic, more people are returning to the office and also finding new opportunities to take public transit – from shorter, neighbourhood trips to special events throughout the city,” said CTA President Dorval R. Carter, Jr. “CTA continues to provide as much service as possible to meet this increasing demand, while also closely watching ridership demand and patterns.”

Notable trends in this steady ridership growth period include a 50% increase in ridership on bus routes serving downtown, as more office workers have returned to the central business district in 2022. Similarly, Loop elevated and downtown subway stations on Red and Blue lines have seen ridership increase between 34% and 49% compared to 2021. 

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The highest ridership day of the year has been recorded on 13 October 2022, with 953,000 rides. In general, CTA has stated that Autumn tends to be the busiest time of year, while Wednesdays and Thursdays are typically two of the busiest days of the week due to the new flexible work schedules.

Furthermore, neighbourhood and off-peak ridership has also been found to perform well, with the continued return of special events and non-work trips contributing to the growth.  Weekend ridership has returned to 60% of pre-pandemic levels.

This momentum of growing ridership has continued in 2023. Most notably, 11 March 2023 set a record high for Saturday ridership with more than 660,000 rides – an increase of 23% (or 134,000 additional rides) compared to the same period in 2022 due to the St. Patrick’s Day events.

As transit agencies across the country have experienced, ridership remains below pre-pandemic levels, due in part to new hybrid work schedules and changes in commuting patterns and demand. However, CTA, like its national transit peers, continues to make investments in improving service, modernising infrastructure and improving the customer experience to welcome more customers back to transit. 

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