The past two years have been one of the strongest two-year ridership periods in the Chicago Transit Authority's history, the agency said on Wednesday, as it announced that ridership in 2012 grew to its highest annual total in the last 22 years.
There were 545.6 million rides taken on the CTA in 2012, a 2.4 percent increase over the previous year, according to a release Wednesday from the CTA. This follows an increase of 2.9 percent in 2011, making this one of the strongest two-year periods in CTA's history, the CTA said.
Rail ridership for the year increased to its highest level in 50 years, increasing by 9.5 million rides, or 4.2 percent, to 231.1 million rides, according to the release. Bus ridership in 2012 increased by 4.05 million rides, or 1.1 percent, to 314.4 million rides, the third-highest annual total since 1994.
Additionally, according to the CTA, from June 2011-December 2012, ridership rose 4.6 percent, about 37 million rides, compared to the same time period in 2009-2010.
The Blue and Orange Lines posted ridership growth of 6.9 percent and 7.2 percent, respectively, in 2012. Bus routes that showed improvement included the express routes on Lake Shore Drive, which combined as a group increased 2.6 percent, the release said.
"We believe that the affordability and convenience of CTA service combined with the visible improvements we have made to our system is attracting people to take transit and will continue to do so in the future," CTA President Forrest Claypool said.
Claypool pointed out that the agency "has more than $4 billion in projects under way or planned that will improve safety, enhance the customer experience and boost overall reliability of the bus and rail system," making the system even more attractive to customers.
The CTA pointed to upcoming major projects aimed at making the system faster, more reliable, and safer, including: the $425 million rebuild of the Red Line South branch between 22nd and 95th streets beginning in May; a $66 million rehabilitation planned for this spring of the elevated Ravenswood Connector between Armitage and the Merchandise Mart; a $203 million rebuild of the Wilson Red Line stop into a modern transfer station, and slow zone remediation work that will eliminate 70 percent of current slow zones by the end of 2015.
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