Program Overview

The RTA established the Access to Transit Improvement Program to seek capital funding for small-scale projects that increase pedestrian and bicycle access to the transit system.  The Access to Transit Improvement Program is intended to leverage RTA and local funds with federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ) funding to help implement recommendations contained in studies completed through the RTA’s Community Planning program or CMAP’S Local Technical Assistance (LTA) program.  Projects selected as part of the RTA’s Access to Transit Improvement Program will be assisted by RTA staff in developing information required for a CMAP application.  Projects will then be bundled into one application submitted to the CMAQ program.  As part of the FFY16-20 CMAQ Call for Projects, the RTA was successful in securing $4.2 million for eleven access to transit improvement projects throughout the region.  Please see the list of active projects for more information on improvements funded through the program.

Funding for the program is contingent upon RTA-supported projects being accepted into the CMAQ program and RTA Board approval of matching funds in future annual budgets.  That said, RTA would like to assist communities with the CMAQ application process and is looking for communities to partner with despite the funding uncertainty. 

Program Requirements

Eligible applicants must have completed, or be in the process of completing, a plan through either the RTA’s Community Planning program or CMAP’s LTA Program and be located within the RTA’s six-county service area (Cook, DuPage, Lake, McHenry, Kane, Will).  Eligible projects include small-scale capital improvements that demonstrate the ability to increase ridership and improve access to existing transit stations, stops and services.  Projects are ready for submission if the planning work is complete and the project can initiate or finish Phase I Engineering (if needed) by the time of application.  Applicants must also have buy-in on the project from local staff and elected officials. 

Program Timeline

The Access to Transit Improvement Program funding awards are contingent upon funding being made available through the CMAQ program. As noted in the Program Timeline below, potential applicants must first initiate Phase I Engineering (if necessary). Applicants then submit applications to the RTA. The RTA reviews all requests and then makes a determination of which projects will be bundled and submitted by the RTA as one application to the CMAQ program.



April 29, 9:30am Program information session.  RTA staff will provide details on the program and applicants will have an opportunity to ask questions.  Session will be held in the RTA Board Room located at 175 W Jackson Boulevard, Suite 1660, Chicago, IL 60604.
April-October Potential Applicants prepare applications and initiate (or complete) Phase I Engineering
October 20 Applications Due to the RTA by 3:00pm
October-December Application review and selection; all applicants notified


January CMAQ Program Call for Projects Released
January-February RTA staff prepares CMAQ application; selected applicants complete Phase I Engineering
February RTA Submits CMAQ Application on behalf of selected applicants
August CMAQ Program of Projects released for Public Comment
October CMAQ Program of Projects Finalized
December RTA Board considers matching funds as part of 2018 Agency Budget


January CMAP transfers project sponsorship from the RTA to applicants; RTA enters into IGA’s with communities, as necessary
February Access to Transit Improvement Program projects initiated

Please direct any questions to:

Michael Horsting, AICP
Manager, Local Planning
Regional Transportation Authority
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