Rider experience

Improvements are necessary to make transit work better for everyone
221107 RTA 1602

Transit is the Answer addresses many challenges our regional transit system is facing that impact rider experience. Improvements to accessibility, reliability, safety, convenience, and communication are necessary to realize the plan vision of safe, reliable, accessible public transportation that connects people to opportunity, advances equity, and combats climate change.


The RTA is committed to helping build a transit system that is accessible for all riders. While all Pace and CTA vehicles are fully accessible and all Metra trains include at least one accessible train car, many rail stations lack elevators and other essential features. The Service Boards are making progress in updating station facilities and other elements of the system every year to reach the region’s goal of 100 percent accessibility.


Like many other industries, transit nationwide has been impacted by labor shortages. According to a report from the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), 96 percent of agencies surveyed reported experiencing a workforce shortage, 84 percent of which said the shortage is affecting their ability to provide service. Chicagoland is not immune to these challenges. The CTA, Metra, and Pace know that the region’s transit system relies on bus and train operators, station attendants, mechanics, and other workers on the ground to function efficiently and reliably and meet the needs of riders, and the agencies are working creatively to make more hires. Additionally, reliability is dependent upon strategic capital investment to support projects like dedicated bus lanes, bus rapid transit, track rebuilds that eliminate slow zones, and more.


All riders deserve to feel safe riding transit. A safe and secure system is also necessary to attract, retain, and protect a talented transit workforce. While the transit system is part of a larger regional ecosystem with other economic and societal trends at play, there are several steps the Service Boards can and have taken to improve safety, work with community partners, and communicate about disruptions on the transit system. In 2023, the RTA will convene a cross-sector and cross-regional public safety and security summit to facilitate information sharing and explore holistic solutions to the challenges affecting transit, including advocating for further funding.

Making travel more seamless

Riding CTA, Metra, and Pace and transferring across systems should be as easy as possible. The Chicago region’s transit system is operated by three separate Service Boards, but riders care most about a transit experience that easily gets them to where they need to go without complicating or confusing transfers. As the regional entity, RTA is committed to making transit more seamless. A systemwide day pass or more discounted transfers could help remove barriers to travel. In addition, reducing fares for some could also help make transit more financially accessible. The Service Boards have released new fare products that make progress in this area and are working on further improvements.

Rider info and communication

Providing accurate, real-time travel information is a critical component of delivering quality public transportation. Pandemic-induced service disruptions and staffing challenges have made service less reliable at times, making it even more important for riders to have access to clear, accurate updates about when and where their bus or train will arrive. When riders have access to reliable information and predictable trip times, it is easier for them to choose transit over driving. The RTA, CTA, Metra, and Pace continue to work together to upgrade technology and improve coordination so every rider has access to the information they need.