Pace is proud to show how we continue to serve our passengers in innovative ways. Our Annual Reports look at new projects, new services, and new goals for the future. We're always evolving because We're Driven For You!
We are pleased to present a summary of Pace's accomplishments during 2023, a remarkable year filled with historic infrastructure investments, innovative service launches, and thoughtful efforts to continue strong ridership growth.
As you can see in these pages, the Pace Board of Directors and staff continue to excel while also ensuring fiscal responsibility and making the best use of our available resources. We are capitalizing on the strong foundation that has established Pace as the premier suburban transit provider, safely and efficiently serving our region’s 8.4 million people.
Many of the projects featured in Pace’s 2023 annual report were developed from Pace’s strategic vision articulated in Driving Innovation and from Pace’s commitment to delivering service that can meet our riders’ post-pandemic travel needs. The actions this past year include the creation of ReVision, our comprehensive network revitalization and system restructuring plan.
2022 was a year of transitions for Pace in more than one way. First, our first female Executive Director took the reins on January 1. Pace also transitioned out of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ridership continues to grow over 2020 and 2021 levels as more employees are going to work in person more often. Next, Pace continues to transition into a mobility- as-a-service organization. Now, our partnership with the Transit app makes it easier for the public to seamlessly find our entire family of service types in one place when planning a trip online. Finally, 2022 saw Pace’s first steps in a transition to a zero-emission fleet. Pace is taking seriously our responsibility for environmental stewardship and doing our part to reduce our fleet’s carbon footprint. As you can see, 2022 was a year of many firsts. We thank our riders and stakeholders for their part in Pace’s success as we continue to grow, innovate and improve our offerings and the customer experience.
2021 was both a challenging year and one that revealed a bright future for Pace. Vaccines rolled out, riders began to return, and life started to feel a little more normal. Pace continued to prioritize safety, service, and transparency as we maintained critical service and pushed forward with infrastructure plans made possible by the state’s historic Rebuild Illinois investment. A major achievement for our agency and our region was the publication of our new strategic vision plan, Driving Innovation, and a commitment to a zero-emission bus fleet by 2040. As our state and nation prioritize climate stewardship, we look forward to working with governmental officials to secure the infrastructure funding to make this plan a reality.
The 2020 report focused on how Pace has, along with the rest of the world, faced historic challenges in 202 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At the height of the pandemic, Pace ridership dropped to approximately 25% of our regular ridership. Where we had been providing over 100,000 trips every weekday, systemwide ridership dipped to just 25,000. Those 25,000 trips helped heroes get to their essential jobs in healthcare, retail, and government and ensured everyone would have access to pharmacies, medical care, and everyday necessities. The fact that Pace’s ridership doubled to approximately 50,000 trips since the State of Illinois entered Phase 4 showed just how crucial our service was to keeping our people and our economy moving during the pandemic.
This report highlights Pace’s many accomplishments from 2019. While that year's launch of the Pulse Milwaukee Line—Pace’s first rapid transit service—was certainly a highlight and the culmination of years of planning and construction, we have many other good stories to tell about 2019. As you can see, this report contains success stories related to technological improvements, capacity expansion on our fastest-growing services, and improvements to the riding experience. Under the leadership of then-new Executive Director, Rocky Donahue, Pace not only successfully implemented projects that had been underway but, more importantly, secured more than $200 million in earmarks for capital projects from the State as part of 2019’s Rebuild Illinois program.
The 2018 report recalls the implementation of several projects that provide better service to our customers, make the agency a more efficient steward of taxpayer dollars, and encourage northeastern Illinoisans to make the switch to public transit. Pace underwent a transition; November 30, 2018 saw the retirement of Executive Director T.J. Ross, after twenty years at the helm of Pace and a lifelong career in mass transit. T.J.’s legacy at Pace was a successful one, including a successful incorporation of the region’s entire ADA Paratransit operation in 2006 and three Bus-on-Shoulder express bus projects. This 2018 report shows the solid foundation T.J. left Pace on, and from which the agency continues to build and grow.