RTA Launches Online Dashboard Showing COVID-19 Effects on Transit Network

The Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) has launched a new online dashboard with information about the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the region’s transit network.

The dashboard includes ridership data, service changes, and financial information including farebox revenue and sales tax receipts for recent months.  All data is shown in comparison to pre-pandemic dates in 2019, in order to demonstrate the relative significance of the impacts. Each dataset will be updated as the RTA receives new information throughout the ongoing crisis and recovery.

As the State and nation respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, public transit remains an essential service. While many usual riders are staying home, some people still rely upon buses and trains to get to work and will continue to do so as the economy re-opens

During this time, the RTA, CTA, Metra, and Pace remain committed to transparency regarding health and safety measures, regional ridership impacts, transit service changes, and regional financial impacts.

The dashboard includes:

Ridership impacts
As of May 15, the RTA system has experienced an 78 percent decline in ridership relative to 2019, with Metra ridership down 96 percent, Pace down 69 percent, CTA rail down 88 percent, and CTA bus down 66 percent. Ridership numbers will be updated on the dashboard multiple times each month.

Service changes
In response to ridership demands, Metra and Pace have made temporary service reductions, while CTA continues to run a regular schedule to accommodate essential riders with social distancing. The dashboard includes a map of service throughout the region as service changes are announced, compared to before the pandemic.

Financial impacts
The significant decrease in ridership will have a negative impact on fare revenue for each transit agency for the remainder of this fiscal year and likely beyond. The dashboard will include monthly farebox revenue data for each transit agency, updated on a monthly basis.

The economic downturn will also affect other streams of revenue that support the region’s transit network, including the RTA sales tax collected throughout the six-county region that includes Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, Will, and McHenry. In 2019, the RTA regional sales tax generated approximately $1.254 billion.  Due to the pandemic, the RTA is projecting a decline in sales tax revenue for 2020 of 28.5 percent. The dashboard will include monthly updates on sales tax receipts, which often lag by several months (March data is expected to be available in June).

While the region will obtain approximately $1.4 billion in supplemental funding through the recently passed federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the long-term costs associated with COVID-19 are likely to exceed this one-time funding infusion. RTA staff will work with partners on a scenario planning process to look at the timeline of the pandemic’s effect on ridership and funding changes, as we work toward how transit will be impacted in 2021 and beyond.

The dashboard is more easily viewed on desktop and laptop computers than mobile devices.

Explore the dashboard online.

Read more in a press release from the RTA.