What other types of technical assistance is available to communities?

CMAP offers technical assistance through their Local Technical Assistance (LTA) Program. For more information please visit www.cmap.illinois.gov/lta.

Who is eligible to apply?

Municipalities, counties, townships, councils of government / municipal associations, the City of Chicago, groups of two or more municipalities, and the RTA Service Boards (Chicago Transit Authority, Metra and Pace) located within the RTA six county service area are eligible to apply to the Community Planning program. The RTA six county service area encompasses Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, and Will counties in northeastern Illinois.

Projects that focus on transit service planning only are restricted to the Service Boards (Metra, Pace, CTA) only to apply. Municipalities interested in a transit service planning study for their area should contact the appropriate Service Board(s) to apply for funding.

How are Community Planning projects funded?

A variety of sources are used to fund the projects. RTA funds are used as the primary sources of funding for Community Planning projects. Federal Unified Work Program (UWP) funds, as well as other state and federal grants may also be used.

Is there a local match requirement?

A local match is not required for some small scale Community Planning projects, such as TOD zoning updates or developer panels. Larger transit-focused Community Planning projects, such as TOD plans or corridor studies will require a local match. Match requirements are based on the economic and demographic characteristics of the area served, with lower match rates for smaller communities and those with lower tax bases or median incomes. Match rates range from 5%-20%. Applicants will be notified if a local match will be needed prior to project approval.  

How are project budgets determined?

Project budgets are set by the RTA during the project selection process based on the project scope and previous experience with similar projects and in consultation with the applicant. The "not to exceed amount" establishes the upper limit for the RTA's funding for the project. Each project's cost will vary depending on the scope.

What types of projects has the RTA worked on in the past?

The RTA has completed TOD Plans, transit improvement plans, corridor studies, TOD area land control document updates, developer discussion panels and transit access improvement studies. A full list of previously funded RTA planning projects may be found on the RTAMS webpage. 

What projects are NOT eligible?

The Community Planning program is intended to provide planning and early implementation assistance. Project development work such as capital investment, engineering, operating, staffing, land acquisition, or equipment costs are not eligible for funding through this program.  

Can I request money to cover staff time at my organization?

This program does not offer funds for staff time. Any financial commitment from the RTA is dedicated to hiring external contractors/consultants or providing RTA staff assistance.

Can I submit more than one idea?

You may submit more than one project proposal. Please submit a separate application form for each project idea you are proposing.

If I applied for Community Planning funding in past years and was not selected, can I apply this year?

Yes you are allowed to apply again. Please note that this year will be quite competitive, so an application that was not selected in a previous year is not guaranteed to be selected this year. Feel free to reach out to the RTA to discuss how you could improve your application this year.

If I have received assistance in past years, can I apply again?

Yes. The RTA encourages applicants to submit applications that seek to implement existing plans. You may also submit applications for completely separate projects as well. However, please make sure that your application doesn't duplicate work done in the recent past – it won't be selected if this is the case.

I am a nongovernmental organization, and would like to submit an application.  How do I do this? 

The RTA does not provide funding to nongovernmental groups, so please work with a relevant local government to have them submit an application on your behalf.

How competitive will the application process be?

The competitiveness of the program depends on the number of entities that choose to submit applications. The number of applications generally exceeds available funding, so the program is typically very competitive.

How is it determined whether my project is a Community Planning (RTA) or LTA (CMAP) project?

Once the applications are received, the agencies will discuss the alignment of the applications with each agency's interests. Projects with a direct transit focus are more likely to be a Community Planning (RTA) project; those without transit components will be an LTA (CMAP). You do not need to specify at the time of submitting the application whether you think your project is a better fit for RTA or CMAP – this will be worked out during the application review.

I submitted an application by the due date.  What are the next steps?

Immediately following the receipt of all submittals, RTA staff will begin a review of the applications. While RTA staff makes the final project selections, staff considers feedback from all three Service Boards (CTA, Pace, and Metra) and other agencies as appropriate. During this time RTA staff will also contact all applicants to ask questions as necessary. The applications are qualitatively reviewed by the set of criteria listed in the application. You will be notified by staff regarding selection outcomes.

How will projects be evaluated?

The RTA will evaluate and select transit-related projects for the Community Planning Program based on the criteria described in the "Project Evaluation and Selection Process" Section of the website.

How do CTA, Metra and Pace get involved in transit-related projects?

Each transit agency that can potentially be impacted by the study is invited to participate. Additionally, it may be appropriate to involve CMAP in an RTA-led project and vice versa.

Do other external groups get involved in these projects?

Yes, the RTA may partner with outside groups for assistance on some projects. It will strengthen your application to identify any partnerships that you already have with external groups.

Who selects the consultant for my project?

In most cases, once your project has been accepted into the Community Planning Program the RTA will assist you in procuring a consultant to complete the scope of work. For most projects requiring consultant assistance, the RTA will solicit proposals from a pool of consultant teams previously vetted and under task order contracts with the RTA. Your staff and an assigned RTA Project Manager will both work with RTA’s Procurement department in reviewing the proposals and selecting the consultant team most qualified to complete the work. 

Who is responsible for managing the project?

The local grantee will be responsible for overall project management. An RTA staff member will also be assigned to each project to assist with project development and management.

What is the anticipated timeframe for projects to begin?

Once a project is selected into the program, project development begins. Our goal is to initiate most of the projects within six months and complete each project within twelve to eighteen months of project initiation.

Who can I contact if I still have questions?

Please contact Michael Horsting at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..