Public transit exists to connect people with communities, businesses, and opportunities. This mission is as relevant today as ever, but across the country public transit agencies face challenges. Bus ridership has been in long-term decline in major cities, and rail ridership has declined steeply since 2015, in Chicago and in peer cities. While the causes are varied, new alternatives and changing customer needs contribute significantly to these declines. The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) is working to rise to the challenges of meeting its mission in a changing landscape, and CTA's leadership recently asked the Civic Consulting Alliance to identify new ways for CTA to innovate.

Working in partnership with PwC , the CCA team learned that leaders of peer transit systems in other cities hold the CTA operational model in high regard. They are impressed by CTA's execution, given the available funds and distances traveled. At the same time, the team came to appreciate the stiff challenges facing public transit in general and Chicago’s public transit system in the new economy, including competition from Uber and Lyft, shifts in populations and business locations, and the coming development of technologies like automated vehicles.