Rail and bus services see ongoing improvements in service reliability, with fewer instances of long waits
Service reliability for the Chicago Transit Authority’s (CTA) rail and bus systems show continued improvement in March, with fewer long waits and improved delivery of scheduled service—according to the agency’s latest interactive “Meeting the Moment” Action Plan scorecard.
New this month is even more information on CTA’s ongoing hiring and workforce retention efforts. The monthly scorecard will now provide improved transparency into the agency’s workforce metrics, including monthly hiring and attrition rates for the past 13-months for bus operators, as well as flaggers and rail operators. Through the end of February, CTA had 715 rail operator positions filled, compared to its budgeted headcount of 839 full-time positions. On the bus side, of the budgeted 3,707 full-time bus operator positions, a total of 3,220 full-time positions were filled.
The scorecard also tracks the monthly progress the agency is making to improve overall services, allowing customers to see detailed service results for their bus route or rail line.
Among the results of the March scorecard:
The CTA’s efforts to reduce long gaps between trains continues to show improvement. Instances of customers experiencing long wait times for trains—intervals that are double and triple the scheduled headways—fell for the sixth straight month:
- Triple headways down to an average of 12 instances each weekday, compared to 29 pre-optimization
- Double headways down to an average of 84 instances each weekday, compared to 158 pre-optimization
For CTA bus riders, the results are even better with an ongoing reduction in big gaps in service since the new schedules went into effect in January. Big gaps in bus service – intervals that are double or triple their scheduled times – have already dropped by more than half, from 12.3% in December to 5.6% in March.
March 2023 saw improvements in service delivered compared to the previous month:
- Bus Service Delivered: 94.9% in March 2023, compared to 94.1% in February
- Rail Service Delivered: 84.8% in March 2023, compared to 82.6% in February
While service reliability and delivery continue to improve, there are still significant headwinds that impact CTA’s service. The primary contributor to service challenges is the nationwide shortage of transit-industry frontline workers. Additionally, when last-minute call-offs occur—and backup workers are not available—CTA can’t put out all scheduled train trips customers deserve.
CTA continues to undertake aggressive recruitment, hiring and retention efforts to address the shortage of transit workers that continues to impact the industry. A fall 2022 study by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) found that 96% of agencies surveyed are having workforce challenges, and 84% of agencies reported that staffing shortages are impacting service.
The CTA offers regular training classes for current rail employees to become rail operators, and recent classes have had full enrollment. New operators will be assigned to rail lines after completing extensive and rigorous training. The next graduating rail operator class is anticipated to enter service in April. The CTA has a current deficit of about 100 rail operators.
As it relates to bus operations, the CTA has already hired nearly one-third (or 225 full-time hires) of its 2023 goal of 700 bus operators, which will help fill the shortage of about 600 bus operators, this includes having added personnel available to meet workforce needs. In 2022, the agency hired 452 people as bus operators.
Unveiled in August 2022, the “Meeting the Moment: Transforming CTA’s Post-Pandemic Future” Action Plan is a multifaceted investment plan to strengthen the rider experience – more consistent and reliable service, safe rides, clean facilities, modern amenities, dynamic customer engagement tools, and a strong CTA workforce.
For more information on the “Meeting the Moment” Action Plan, or to view the monthly scorecards, visit, www.transitchicago.com/meetingthemoment/.