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RTA Board Approves $3.0 Billion 2018 Regional Transit Operating Budget and $4.2 Billion 2018-2022 Regional Capital Program

December 14, 2017

CHICAGO - The Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) Board of Directors today adopted the 2018 operating budgets for the RTA, Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), Metra and Pace, totaling $3.0 billion. This year marks the first time in nine years in which all three Service Boards have proposed a fare increase. The $3.0 billion operating budget approved by the RTA Board authorizes operations expenses in the following amounts:

  • CTA: $514 million
  • Metra: $797 million
  • Pace Suburban Bus Service: $232 million
  • Pace Regional ADA Paratransit: $179 million
  • RTA: $3 million

The Board also adopted a five-year capital program in the amount of $4.2 billion. This includes an estimated $1.2 billion in capital expenditures for 2018. For the fourth year in row, the transit system cannot expect new capital money from the state of Illinois. The RTA estimates that in order to address the region’s growing backlog of capital needs and move forward, we should be investing $2 billion to $3 billion annually. The current capital program falls far short of that goal.

“The 2018 budgeting and capital planning process was exceptionally challenging. Each Service Board tackled these obstacles by making difficult decisions and, when possible, mitigating the negative impact on riders,” said RTA Executive Director Leanne Redden. “In order to produce balanced operating budgets as required by law, the budget approved by the RTA board today incudes fare increases for CTA, Metra and Pace that are unavoidable in light of current challenging economic factors and cuts in state funding.”  

Individual Service Board plans related to operating budgets and capital plans are attached.


The 2018 operating budgets include the following changes:


The CTA will implement a 25-cent increase in the base fare for bus and rail rides, a $5 increase in the cost of a 30-day pass, and increased reduced-fare rides by 10 to 15 cents to partially offset funding cuts from the State. The following fares will remain the same: 75-cent student fares; 1-Day, 3-Day and 7-Day unlimited ride CTA passes ($10, $20, and $28, respectively); and CTA Single-Ride and 1-Day Ventra tickets ($3 and $10, respectively). Train rides originating at O’Hare will remain $5. CTA’s average base fare is projected to be $1.17 in 2017, up slightly versus 2016.  With the fare increase in 2018, the average fare is budgeted to increase to $1.26 and increase further to $1.31 by 2020.  The new fare structure will go into effect January 7, 2018.



Pace will increase its full one‐way fare price by $0.25 on regular fixed‐route, Call-n-Ride and ADA paratransit services. Reduced one-way fare prices for regular fixed‐route and Call-n-Ride services will increase by $0.15 when using Ventra transit value and by $0.10 when using cash. Transfer fares (available only when using Ventra transit value) will increase by $0.05. One‐way fares for premium routes, such as I-55 Bus‐on‐Shoulder Express service, will increase by $0.50 (full fare) and $0.25 (reduced). No Pace-only passes will change price; however, the joint CTA/Pace 30-day pass will increase from $100 to $105. The average fare across all fare and pass types is projected to increase by 8.3% in 2018 to $1.35. The new fare structure will go into effect January 1, 2018.



For all fare zones, one‐way fares will increase by $0.25, 10‐ride tickets will increase by a range of $4.25 to $7.75, and monthly passes will increase by a range of $9 to $12.50. The proposed 10‐ride and monthly pass prices reflect a lesser discount versus one‐way fares. In addition, some reduced fare tickets and pass prices will increase.  Weekend pass prices will increase by $2. The fare increase would be effective February 1, 2018.

In addition, a small number of weekday trains will be curtailed or eliminated on the North Central Service, South West Service and Rock Island Line, and weekend trains will be cut on the Milwaukee District North Line.  Those changes will start Feb. 5, 2018. Details are here.


The RTA Board of Directors will consider for adoption Invest in Transit: the 2018-2023 Regional Transit Strategic Plan in January 2018. As State funding delays continue, the agency will raise awareness of regional capital infrastructure needs and advocate for a new, sustainable source of state capital funding. It will continue to use its positive credit rating to affordably provide financing options, such as $150 million in short-term borrowing to help manage continued state funding delays and $150 million in long-term bonding to support Service Board capital programs. 

The budget process included a series of public budget hearings and presentations to the six-county boards to share information and gather input on the 2018 transit budget and capital program. View a copy of the transit system’s 2018 budget and capital program at

2018 Capital Projects

Even without a state capital bill, and inadequate capital funding, all three Service Boards are working to continue to attract riders and provide world class service through the following capital projects:


The most significant project in CTA’s capital program continues to be Phase I of the Red and Purple Modernization program. This is a series of proposed major improvements to the North Red Line along the 9.6‐mile stretch from the Belmont station to the Linden station. This program will enhance station access along the corridor, expand platforms, and replace and modernize the structural system which is more than 90 years old.

CTA will use capital funds to continue purchasing and rehabbing bus and rail car fleets, in which some are beyond useful life. These efforts will improve passenger comfort and amenities, minimize the steady increases in operating and maintenance cost to operate more efficiently, and contribute to a greener, sustainable environment.

To eliminate slow zones and improve travel time, CTA will be investing in improvements to tracks along the Green, Pink, Red, Blue, and Brown Lines.



The Pace 2018-2022 Five Year Suburban Service Capital Business Plan needs a total of $298.561 million for critical State of Good Repair projects with the largest capital investment in Support Facilities and Equipment. Projects include a new Northwest Division garage and other support facility improvements, computer system upgrades, non-revenue vehicle replacement, a new cash farebox system, and office equipment/furniture.

The next largest capital investment category is Rolling Stock. Pace will replace fixed route buses, paratransit, community and vanpool vehicles, as well as engine/transmission retrofits for fixed route buses.

Lastly, the Plan allows for Intelligent Bus System (IBS) equipment replacement, improvements to passenger facilities, posted stops only conversion, and new bus stop shelters and signs. The projects are designed to reduce utility and maintenance costs, improve fuel economy, and improve passenger waiting conditions to encourage ridership.


Metra’s largest area of capital investment includes purchasing new rail cars and rehabilitation of mid-life locomotives. Additional fleet component projects include rebuilding of traction motors, wheel replacements, lighting conversion to LED fixtures, and installation of cameras on rail car and locomotives.

Metra has dedicated a portion of their capital budget for track and structure projects to reduce the number of slow zones and improve the riding quality of the trains. They will also improve the customer waiting experience at various stations by replacing roofs, benches, rehabilitating warming shelters and installing new lighting.

Metra will continue funding the federally mandated Positive Train Control (PTC). PTC will improve the operational safety of commuter and freight trains.

Press Information

Melissa Meyer

Communications Manager
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