In response to passage of H.R. 4281, a 90-day extension of federally-funded surface transportation programs by the U.S. House of Representatives, the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) released the following statement:

“Today, the U.S. House of Representatives voted against transportation funding certainty and long-term job growth by approving a short-term ‘extension’ that defers important decisions,” said RTA Executive Director Joseph G. Costello. “Millions of transit riders and commuters across northeastern Illinois will pay the price.”

“Without a multi-year bill, mass transit and highway officials can’t bond critically needed repairs and upgrades — just as the summer construction season arrives. The result will be more delays and slow zones for Metra and El riders, more congestion on expressways, and longer commutes for everyone,” Costello added. “It is time for Congress to stop playing politics with the livelihoods of commuters and pass a multi-year bill that supports transit across our region.”

Costello reiterated the RTA’s support for the U.S. Senate’s recently-passed, bipartisan surface transportation bill — Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21). While not perfect, Costello said that bill had the following provisions which are vital to the long-term health of Illinois’ transit system:

  • Continued dedicated funding for mass transit from the motor fuels tax receipts within the Highway Trust Fund (HTF). This would preserve a dedicated revenue stream for the RTA’s capital program, lower the RTA’s borrowing costs and enable it to do more.
  • An increased pre-tax transit commuter benefit of $240 per month, restoring parity with the pre-tax benefit for qualified parking.
  • Recognition of the need for a national State of Good Repair program to address high-cost capital maintenance by establishing a first-time state of good repair discretionary program.
  • Support for a holistic approach to multi-modal corridor planning and continued eligibility for multi-modal transit systems to access bus and bus facilities formula grants.
  • Maintenance of current funding levels for Fiscal Years 2012 and 2013 for mass transit programs at $10.46 billion per year.

The House vote comes on the heels of a new report showing a sharp increase in the use of public transportation. Last week, the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) released a report revealing that Americans took more than 235 million more public transit rides in 2011 than in 2010. In all, Americans took 10.4 billion rides on public transportation in 2011, according to APTA.

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With three transit systems and more than two million riders a day, there is always something interesting going on at the RTA. Get the latest scoop on everything all in one place. For all media inquiries, please contact Susan Massel, Director of Communications and Public Affairs, at 312-913-3256 or at