Performance Measures

Performance measures

RTA is committed to tracking strategic performance measures to understand how outcomes may vary across communities, by race, by income, or by other important factors. The strategic performance measures the RTA will report out on regularly from Transit is the Answer are organized around the six key outcomes as shown below and regularly updated on the Performance Measures Dashboards.

22 RTA 1522

Transit system

These measures capture user experience, progress made in investing in and maintaining transit infrastructure, and how well RTA and the Service Boards are maximizing use of our shared resources. When possible, these measures will be tracked both in aggregate and across different demographic, geographic, and rider groups in order to measure equity and improve equity outcomes.

A state of good repair

View dashboard

Layer 1 2

Miles between major mechanical failures

The total and average miles travelled between major mechanical failures to transit vehicles. The more miles between mechanical failures means fewer delays and improved service reliability.

Annual capital funding

The annual amount dedicated to funding expenses related to the purchase, improvement, or maintenance of capital equipment and financing capital projects. The 2023-2027 Capital Program totals $5.72 billion. Recent major influxes in capital funding from state and federal infrastructure bills have led to many long-needed projects being built in the Chicago region, but a long-term sustainable funding solution is needed to keep transit in a state of good repair today and for the next generation.

Percentage of assets within useful life benchmark

The percent of assets (e.g., vehicles, buildings, passenger stations, and fixed guideway facilities) that are within their useful life — the expected lifetime of property, or the acceptable period of use in service. Ideally, transit assets are replaced before the end of their useful life.

Capital expenditures

The funds used for the purchase, improvement, or maintenance of transit assets and capital projects. Modernizing and improving transit facilities with capital expenditures can ensure those facilities are safe, accessible, and in a state of good repair for all passengers and future passengers.

Inventory of ADA accessible and non-compliant facilities, including percent of time unavailable for accessibility elements

The amount of transit facilities that are compliant and non-compliant with ADA accessibility standards. All facilities and vehicles must meet ADA accessibility standards and ensure no one is denied transportation based on physical ability.

Share of capital spending in equity areas

The share of capital funding invested in equity areas compared to the rest of the region. Investments in equity areas can connect historically disadvantaged and underserved communities to jobs and opportunity, support climate justice, and ensure everyone benefits from a robust transportation system.

Backlog of investment needs

The list of transit amenities, vehicles, supplies, and materials that are in need of investment, including those assets exceeding their useful life. The backlog of investment needs can inform which assets an agency should prioritize spending capital funds on. For example, the CTA has identified a total of $29 billion in long-term capital project needs.

Financially stable

View dashboard

Layer 1 1

Non-farebox operating revenue

The revenue accrued by the Service Boards other than the revenue accrued through customer farebox payments. With the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, transit agencies are increasingly leaning on ancillary revenue such as the lease of space, advertising, and investment income to support operating budgets.

Operating cost per unit of service

The amount a Service Board spends to offer a specific amount of transit service (per hour, week, month, etc.) Operating cost per unit of service can demonstrate how far a transit agency’s operating dollar is going per hour, week, or year.

Fare revenue per passenger trip

Represents the average fare collected by the Service Boards per trip, including discounted fares for select populations.

Regional and Service Board farebox recovery ratios as published in the National Transit Database (NTD)

The fraction of regional and Service Board operating expenses which are met by passenger fares.

Safe, accessible, reliable, and useful for riders

View dashboard

Layer 1 5

Safety/security incidents per 1 million trips

The number of reportable safety and security incidents that occur on transit vehicles and at transit facilities per 1 million passenger trips taken. Lowering safety and security incidents is paramount to the rider experience and to encouraging ridership.

On-time performance

The percent of all transit trips that are on-time, late, and early. Riders expect to get to their destinations on time. Maintaining on-time performance decreases delays and ensures riders can predict and plan their trips.

The ratio of operated service to scheduled service

The share of scheduled transit trips that are actually delivered.

Average transit vehicle speed

The average measurement of distance traveled normalized by the time it takes a transit vehicle to travel from one point to another. Average speeds impact safety, traffic flow, congestion, schedules, service reliability, and more.


The total boardings throughout the system. Ridership is dependent on numerous factors, including access, affordability, and reliability.

Customer satisfaction

The degree to which transit customers are satisfied or dissatisfied with transit service. Customer satisfaction encompasses numerous factors, such as speed and reliability, quality and accessibility of information, transit amenities, and safety.

Vehicle revenue hours per passenger or per capita

The total revenue hours (time a transit vehicle is available to the general public) per passenger or person within the service area. Revenue hours per passenger or per capita is a useful metric in measuring a transit agency’s service operability compared to its ridership.

Percentage of regional residents within walking distance of all-day, frequent transit

The percent of residents living within walking distance (usually 1/4 mile) of all-day, frequent transit service. A higher percentage of the population living near frequent, quality transit will significantly improve access to opportunity and accessibility throughout the region.

Number of passenger transfers between Service Boards

The number of passenger transfers between one service board to another (e.g., taking a Pace bus to ‘L’ train or Metra Rail to CTA bus).


These measures capture how the transit system connects people to opportunities like jobs and healthcare, how transit is used as a tool for climate action, and how transit fosters communities throughout the region to thrive. When possible, these measures will be tracked both in aggregate and across different demographic, geographic, and rider groups in order to measure equity and improve equity outcomes.


Layer 1 3

The number of jobs/services within 30/60 minutes via transit vs. driving

The number of jobs and other important services (such as healthcare, schools, and grocery stores) reachable within 30 and 60 minutes by transit, versus driving. Improving the number of jobs and services accessible via transit connects people to opportunities and daily needs.

Regional miles of dedicated bus lanes

The total miles of dedicated bus lanes (street space that is exclusive to transit vehicles) in the system. More miles of dedicated bus lanes means more high-quality and reliable transportation to more people that need it.

Transit travel time competitiveness to auto

The average time it takes to get to a destination on public transit versus driving a personal vehicle. If the time it takes to reach your destination on public transit is less than on other modes, people will likely opt to use it for convenience.

Total area of access measured in travel time

Measure of how far you can travel via transit within 30 and 60 minutes.

Residential density within 1/2 mile of transit

The number of dwelling units per area (e.g., acre) within 1/2 mile of transit facilities.

Passenger trips per capita

The average number of transit trips that people living within the service area take.

Winning the fight against climate change

Layer 1

Regional greenhouse gas emissions from on-road and rail transportation

Total amount of greenhouse gas emissions across the region from on-road sources (i.e., transit buses, trucks, and cars) and rail (i.e., passenger and freight rail).

Regional transit system emissions

Total amount of greenhouse gas emissions attributed to the regional transit system, including direct, indirect, and upstream emissions from vehicle travel and transit operations.

Tons of CO2 per passenger mile traveled

Greenhouse gas emissions (measured as tons of carbon dioxide equivalents) from transit normalized by the number of passenger miles traveled on transit.

Regional vehicle miles traveled

Measure of driving (including personal trips and freight delivery) across the region. Shifting more trips from driving to transit can help reduce vehicle miles traveled and associated emissions.

Regional transit mode share of fleets that are zero-emission

Percentage of the regional transit fleet made up of zero-emissions vehicles. Increasing the number of zero-emissions vehicles will help decrease greenhouse gas emissions from the transit system.

Tons of CO2 off set by low emissions vehicles

Measure quantifying the amount of greenhouse gas emissions avoided by switching to zero and low emissions vehicles compared to conventional vehicles.

Tons of CO2 off set by mode choice

Measure quantifying the amount of greenhouse gas emissions avoided by the use of transit vs. driving alone.

Percentage of regional employers offering transit benefits

The percent of employers in the region that offer transit benefits (e.g., RTA Transit Benefit Fare Program and other transit subsidies) to their employees.


Layer 1 4

Share of new building and affordable housing permits within 1/2 mile of quality transit

The percent of issued building permits and new affordable housing units that are within 1/2 mile of 15-minute or less transit service.

Share of population and jobs within 1/2 mile of quality transit

The percent of population and jobs that are within 1/2 mile of 15-minute or less transit service. A higher concentration of jobs and residents within a 1/2 mile of frequent transit means expanded opportunity access and more opportunity for transit-oriented development, or TOD, to serve those populations.

The percentage of household income spent on transit and overall transportation costs

The percent of a typical household’s income that is spent on transit and transportation costs annually. American households in the lowest income quintile spend the least on transportation but face a larger transportation cost burden, spending 27% of their income on transportation compared to 10% by the highest income quintile in 2021.

Stay Engaged

Transit is the answer to many of the region’s challenges but is threatened by lack of sufficient operating and capital funding after years of disinvestment and a pandemic. Our region’s current transit funding structure is also overly reliant on fares. Together this leaves our transit agencies to face an existential crisis that neither fare hikes nor service cuts can solve while preserving a useful and equitable system. We need your help to win sustainable funding for transit and build a better system for everyone who relies on it. The Agenda for Advocacy and Action in this plan lays out a path to position the system for long-term success by seeking new funding, making improvements for riders, and supporting communities working to increase transit access.

We recognize we can’t do this alone. Many of the advocacy and action items in this plan are not under the control of RTA, CTA, Metra, and Pace. Leadership from a diverse group of elected officials and community leaders is needed to achieve meaningful change.

Take action to advance this agenda, save transit, and improve it for the future.

Join our Transit is the Answer Coalition as an organization or an individual, and follow the RTA on social media to see regular updates on the coalition and progress on plan implementation. Learn more by visiting