New Rail Schedules Adjust Scheduled Service to Better Align with Available Workforce
The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) will introduce new weekday and weekend schedules next week for rail lines across the system that better align with CTA’s current available workforce. This effort aims to address customer concerns around long wait times and inconsistent rail service. These changes are the latest in a series of initiatives introduced in support of the Meeting the Moment: Transforming CTA’s Post-Pandemic Future Action Plan.
“These new schedules are a reflection of our efforts to provide consistent and more reliable service based on current workforce levels, which customers have asked for and what we promised,” said CTA President Dorval R. Carter, Jr. “To be clear, this is just a start: We recognize there is more work to do. But we are moving in the right direction and will continue to make additional adjustments to further improve service reliability and consistency. Our ultimate goal is to build back our workforce to provide the transit service our customers deserve.”
The new schedules seek to align scheduled service with currently available workforce. Like businesses across the country, especially those in the transportation industry, the CTA continues to face workforce shortages related to the pandemic. The impacts of the Great Resignation, retirements, competition for workers and other factors means that the CTA does not have enough bus and rail operators needed to provide all scheduled service—which sometimes leads to long wait times between trains and buses, and inconsistent service.
Addressing CTA’s workforce needs is key to restoring better service in the long term, but CTA customers want and deserve more consistent and reliable service now. This rail schedule optimization is temporary to address current issues with inconsistent and unreliable service while the CTA continues to pursue aggressive hiring strategies for both bus and rail operators.
The schedule changes, which take effect with the start of service on Sunday, October 23, are part of the “pick” process where train operators choose the routes, days, and hours they will work. The picks occur twice a year for the rail system and are established as part of the collective bargaining agreement with CTA’s unions representing rail operators.
The new, optimized schedules do not reduce the hours of service on any line (known as span of service), nor do they change overnight service. Some rush period and midday services will see changes of a few minutes, reflecting slightly longer wait times, but with the goal of providing more consistent rail service throughout the day. All rail lines, except the Yellow Line, will see weekday schedules optimized, and the Blue, Red, Brown and Orange lines will see weekend schedules optimized. For more information on the schedule, go to: https://www.transitchicago.com/schedules/.
Another benefit of these new schedules is anticipated improvements in CTA Train Tracker accuracy. CTA expects that customers will see fewer instances of “ghost” trains. CTA continues to explore other improvements to its Transit Trackers to further enhance the reliability and accuracy of these critical tools.
The new schedules build on CTA’s efforts in August 2022 to make some minor changes to schedules on the Blue, Red, and Purple lines on weekdays and Blue, Red, Brown, and Orange lines on the weekends, both of which helped reduce long wait times and inconsistent service delivery. Specifically, the changes introduced in August 2022:
- Reduced instances of rail service intervals that were three times the scheduled service by 65.7% on Blue Line and 41.1% on the Red Line (weekdays), and
- Reduced instances of rail service intervals that were two times scheduled service by 20.1% on Blue Line and 10.8% on the Red Line (weekdays).
CTA continues to look for opportunities to address service inconsistencies in bus service as well, and this winter, CTA will implement similar service optimization efforts on bus service. Additionally, in the coming months, the agency looks forward to bringing on additional bus and rail operators to add to service.
To track CTA’s progress with service optimization and to learn more about improvements to service, infrastructure and technology, visit: transtichicago.com/meetingthemoment
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