7 Important Stats on Chicago Commuters

Commuters represent a significant portion of radio and audio listenership. Since they spend their traveling time between work and home tuned into their favorite podcast, streaming service, or radio show, there is a wealth of opportunity for marketers to make an impression during those times. However, you must know who you want to target to know which medium is most effective.
The most impactful audio and radio ads capture the listener’s attention and keep it. Knowing what will be relevant and relatable to your audience starts with understanding Chicago commuters.
In this post, we’ll dive into some statistics that should give you insight as you determine if your ads are better suited to radio or digital. 

The Benefit of Understanding Commuter Statistics

Think of how you get to work or school. Do you take public transit, like the L, or go in a private vehicle? Do you drive by yourself or as part of a carpool? Did you blast the radio in the car, or did you have on headphones or earbuds?
Now think of all the people you see around you on your commute. Chances are, if you take public transit, most other commuters are wearing some form of personal listening device, like headphones or earbuds. If you are in a car, how many times do you pass people singing, nodding their heads, or laughing to themselves? People love to listen to music, shows, or podcasts during their commutes, and understanding their habits will help you find the best medium to reach them. 

7 Chicago Commuter Statistics

Most people start their workday by commuting, even with the uptick in remote work since the pandemic. Many people never stopped commuting. Public transit workers, first responders, medical staff, grocery store workers, restaurant staff, and laborers on production lines in virtually every industry have never stopped listening to their favorite programming while making their way from home to work and back.
The numbers tell the rest of the story.

1. Chicago Commuters Spent 155 Hours in Traffic

If you look at this statistic relative to a standard 40-hour workweek, Chicago commuters spent almost one month on average sitting in traffic last year. That represents a 7% increase over pre-pandemic levels and makes Chicago the second-worst city in the world for traffic, coming in shortly behind London in England. What are they doing while stuck in traffic? They listen to the radio or streaming programming and learn about new products or local businesses they want to try. 

2. Train Ridership is Slowly Ticking up to Pre-Covid Levels

More people have been riding the train recently than they have since March 2020 when Covid hit, averaging 900,000 trips during weekdays. Downtown ridership has seen phenomenal growth, doubling as workers returned to the office. However, it isn’t just workers. As tourism rebounds, people visiting the city are also taking public transit.

3. Two-thirds of Commuters Travel between 6 am and 8 am

Morning drive time garners a huge radio-listening audience. If you are interested in reaching local audiences with information about your brand, consider radio ads during the 6-8 am commuter time frame. 

4. Illinois’s Average Commute Time is 29.2 Minutes

Illinois boasts the sixth-highest average commute time nationally at 29.2 minutes. That is almost half an hour that you have a captive, engaged audience interested in what they are listening to, including your brand messages. 

5. Chicago has the Second-Highest Percentage of Bicycle Commuters

With 303 miles of bike lanes and 19 miles of bicycle paths along Lake Michigan, Chicago is a biking city. It’s no wonder they have the second-highest rate of bicycle commuters, with an average commute time of 23 minutes.

6. One-Third of Workers in Illinois are Remote

The rate of remote workers in Illinois surged by 24% last year. Now, over 33% of workers in the state work from home. Remote workers take advantage of digital listening options like online live radio and streaming channels while working. 

7. Over 50% of Commuters Drive Alone to Work

Despite the drive to reduce individual drivers, Chicago has only achieved 35.7% of walk/bike/public transit commuting. The rate of commuters in individual cars includes those using ride-hailing services like Lyft and Uber. While many people driving by themselves tune into their local radio shows during commute times, passengers also tune in digitally through headphones or Bluetooth to local shows or their favorite streaming channels. 

Meet Commuters Where They Spend Their Time

Knowing commuter habits helps you craft marketing messaging to reach them. Tailoring your messages to your local market is what makes your ads powerful. Whether you choose radio or digital ads, relating to and engaging your target audience becomes much more organic when you understand their habits.

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