Pace Ridership Surges To 78 Percent Of Pre-Pandemic Levels

Ridership numbers continue to climb at Pace. (Photo courtesy of Pace)

Pace (Arlington Heights, IL) has reported it is seeing more riders use its system, earning back a large portion of its pre-pandemic ridership, with more service enhancements, increased weekend service, and efficiencies on the way.

“At (a recent) meeting of the Pace Board of Directors, encouraging post-pandemic ridership and service updates underscored the progress Pace is making to attract new and existing riders to its family of services,” according to a press release. “The average weekday ridership in April 2024 throughout Pace’s system was approximately 78 percent of pre-pandemic weekday ridership in April 2019. Furthermore, Pace saw its ADA paratransit ridership fully return to its pre-pandemic level this past March.”

“Pace’s ridership numbers are trending in the right direction, and we are seeing the benefits of our staff’s hard work and dedication to respond to the pandemic and develop innovative service improvements,” Pace Executive Director Melinda Metzger said. “Ever since the pandemic began, we’ve launched new transportation options and focused on creating a more efficient system that can best serve our passengers’ evolving needs, and we’re seeing our riders respond accordingly.”

The release added: “New options like the Pulse Dempster rapid transit line and Pace’s Rideshare Access Program (RAP), which began this past winter, provide our riders with responsive and frequent service. RAP gives ADA-certified paratransit riders a discounted rideshare option to travel destinations throughout Pace’s six-county service area for the first time.”

Additional service enhancements and efficiencies are on the way. During the meeting, the Pace Board Directors discussed several pilot programs, effective in June, designed to serve increased ridership on the weekends. Due to higher levels of Sunday riders, Pace Route 318 soon will begin service one hour earlier on Sundays and end one hour later, along with increased frequency — with buses being available approximately every 20 to 30 minutes.

The change is part of a pilot program that takes effect Sunday, June 2. Route 318 mainly operates along North Avenue, between the CTA Blue Line Forest Park Transit Center and Northlake Commons in west suburban Northlake. As part of that same pilot program, weekend service and frequency along Pace Route 381 in the south suburbs also will increase due to high ridership totals.

Saturday service will begin a half-hour earlier and end an hour-and-a-half later. Sunday service will begin two hours earlier and end one hour later. The frequency of Route 381 service also will increase on weekends and weekdays — with buses being available approximately every 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the day. Route 381 mainly operates along 95th Street between the CTA Red Line 95th/Dan Ryan Station and Moraine Valley Community College in Palos Hills.

Effective June 2, Pace Route 332 also will have four more overnight trips on weekdays, Saturdays, and Sundays to provide service to late-night riders, especially third-shift workers who need to connect to the cargo area south of O’Hare International Airport from the CTA Blue Line station in Rosemont and vice versa.

“We are encouraged by the latest service enhancements and ridership numbers,” Pace Chairman Rick Kwasneski said. “It’s a new world when it comes to travel post-pandemic, and Pace continues to work within its resources and adapt to meet our riders’ needs for public transportation that’s accessible around the clock.”

For more information on Pace’s services, visit www.pacebus.com/service-types.

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