CTA touts record ridership since pandemic as boss feels heat


The Chicago Transit Authority is boasting that riders are returning to trains and buses in droves, setting post-pandemic records.

Ridership is up 13% year-to-date, the CTA announced Thursday. The transit system recorded its busiest day since 2020 on May 8, with more than a million trips.

But the rosy news about rising ridership comes after growing calls for CTA President Dorval Carter Jr. to resign his post.

A group of City Council members have signed a resolution calling on Mayor Brandon Johnson to fire Carter. Carter oversaw the CTA as riders fled the system during the COVID-19 pandemic as crime on public transit increased and staffing shortages contributed to less frequent service.

The Sun-Times reported last week that Mayor Brandon Johnson may not be willing to fire Carter because the former Washington bureaucrat helped secure federal funding for the Red Line expansion project.

In the news release, Carter said bus and rail service had been expanded as part of the CTA's “unprecedented hiring efforts.”

The CTA said it plans to train up to 200 new bus operators, doubling the number in 2023. The CTA said it hired 1,000 bus operators in 2023 and is close to reaching optimal staffing levels, the agency said. The CTA said it added buses on 29 routes, bringing service back close to pre-pandemic levels.

The CTA also said the week of April 28 to May 4 was the second-highest ridership week across the system since the start of the pandemic, with 6.22 million train and bus rides. This period was just a week before the 2023 Chicago Marathon. Spring ridership is typically lower than fall, so the record is an indication that ridership will continue to recover, the CTA said.