The Chicago Transit Authority announced Wednesday that the number of rides on its ‘L’ trains hit a fifty-year high in 2012, going up 4.2 percent from 2011. Across the bus and train system, the CTA saw a modest 2.4 percent increase for a total of 545.6 million rides.
Every train line increased its ridership, with the Yellow Line spiking 18 percent due to a new station opening. The Orange, Pink, and Blue Lines also went up. The Red Line, which experienced multiple station closures and construction projects throughout the year, only had 1.8 percent more riders in 2012 than 2011.
But some rail lines’ stations haven’t fared so well. At the 95th Street stop on the Red Line, 37,000 less people came through in 2012 compared to the previous year. It’s a marginal drop — the station sees nearly 4 million visitors per year — but it’s notable, given that almost all stations in the CTA system increased rides last year. Some saw gains in traffic as high as 7 percent between 2011 and 2012. But all the Red Line stations from Garfield south lost riders.
“This is the worst station in the city,” said Wayne Johnson, who commutes from the city’s Roseland neighborhood to commutes to Evanston. “The Purple Line station, you go on Davis Street downtown. It’s clean. Always somebody sweeping and cleaning up ... Out here, it’s terrible.”
Johnson says racism is behind what he considers to be mediocre service on the South Side. “They don’t care,” he said.
Other people asked by WBEZ suggested that violence is behind the 95th street station’s drop in popularity. Another reason: the Red Line’s slow pace. Currently the line’s south branch is marked by a series of slow zones caused by aging tracks.
“It’s ridiculously slow and we’re very well aware of that,” said a CTA spokesperson.
The agency plans to close all nine South Side Red Line stops from Cermak to 95th for five months, beginning in May. CTA says it will remodel stations and eliminate slow zones by rebuilding the tracks.
Charts by Elliott Ramos.