Chairman Letter: RTA Accomplishments in 2014
December 23, 2014
Dear Regional Transit Passengers,
On behalf of the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) Board of Directors, I would like to take a moment to celebrate the RTA’s accomplishments of 2014 and highlight how they may enhance transit service in 2015 and beyond.
The RTA will be kicking off the new year with strong leadership already in place. Leanne Redden is the RTA executive director and doing a tremendous job and the Board remains strong with the latest addition, comprised of knowledgeable veterans and newer members who will continue to work together to provide the leadership and perspective to benefit the two million riders of ours region’s transit system each workday.
Transparency is paramount in the RTA and beginning this month we provide real-time audio streaming of our board and committee meetings. The new feature allows the public to listen to meetings and view agendas from a smartphone, tablet and computer.
In one of the few “good news” credit stories coming out of northeastern Illinois, in January all three of the nation’s major bond rating services—Fitch, Moody and S&P, rated the RTA double-A with stable outlooks. The ratings demonstrated RTA’s commitment to a balanced budget and its strength in providing necessary fiscal leadership for transit in the region.
Culminating one of the most collaborative budget processes in recent memory, the region will start the new year off with a $2.9 billion transit budget which includes operations expenses in the following amounts: CTA, $1.44 billion; Metra, $753.1 million; Pace, $223.2 million, ADA Paratransit, $172.2 million and the RTA, $42.2 million. Additionally, we will kick off a regional $3.8 billion five-year capital program (2015-2019) including an estimated $1.3 billion in capital expenditures for 2015.
By the end of 2014, the RTA will have programmed more than $2 billion in capital funding for the Service Boards. Included in this amount is $100 million in state of good repair bonds which the RTA issued and allocated in the amount of $55 million to CTA; $45 million to Metra; and $5 million to Pace.
We will continue work to stop companies from illegally diverting millions of dollars in sales tax revenues to local governments and transit agencies from the six-county RTA region. The Illinois Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in the case of Hartney Fuel Oil Company v. Hamer has yielded positive results and we believe the number of agreements that create illegal tax diversions are on the decline.
In preparation for next year, the RTA awarded 16 Community Planning projects as part of the 2015 Community Planning program. More than $800,000 in federal, local and RTA funds were allocated to support innovative transit projects. The recipients include the Village of Bartlett, which will create a transit-oriented development plan for its downtown Metra station area and the Village of Worth, which will create a transit-oriented development plan for its Metra station area. Since the program’s inception, more than 150 planning projects totaling $20 million have been funded through the RTA using a combination of local, federal and RTA funds.
In an ongoing effort to increase ridership throughout the six-county region, in the beginning of 2015, the RTA, in collaboration with the Service Boards, is implementing a three-year, regional consumer marketing campaign focusing on increasing ridership and enhancing the public perception of transit, targeting reverse commuters, visitors and older adults.
There are many, many more highlights from 2014 that will continue to enhance the regional transit service as a whole. Download a copy of Today’s RTA: Moving Transit Forward to learn more about programs and projects at the RTA.
On behalf of the entire RTA Board of Directors, and the hard working staff at the RTA, we assure you we will work harder than ever to make transit in our region the best it can be in 2015 and beyond.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.