The Chicago area’s Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) approved a five-year strategic plan, “Invest in Training,” that prioritizes investments in trains and buses, as well as targeted service and operations improvements. The RTA plan recognizes “public transit as the core of the region’s robust transportation mobility network” and highlights the funding instability facing many regional agencies.
RTA Executive Director Leanne Redden stressed the importance of strategic capital improvements to the region’s future mobility. “Trains and buses are our region’s most important mobility assets. We should be investing $2 to $3 billion in capital each year to keep our system in good shape and move forward with new innovations. However, we’re currently not even investing half of that each year,” she noted.
The adopted plan, which is the result of years of research and public outreach, includes fare increases and outlines three overarching goals for the following five years: deliver value on investments and increase funding, build on the strengths of RTA’s network with strategic improvements, and stay competitive by adapting to the changing needs and expectations of riders.
An accompanying document, “Invest in Transit Priority Projects,” details the most important and unfunded capital priorities of the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), Metra, and Pace, other major regional transit providers.
The RTA will focus on identifying and capitalizing on new funding sources in order to finance its desired capital investments. “The agencies are already doing what we can with fare increases, tax increment financing (TIF) funding, and other local solutions to the problem. Ultimately, we must find a sustainable funding source that will enable us to continue to provide excellent service to our riders and fund the capital projects that will keep us competitive. As the plan says, now is the time to act,” added Redden.