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RTA leads regional application for $375 million to transform transit and fight climate change

April 11, 2024

In coordination with CTA, Metra, and Pace, and supported by a bipartisan group of legislators, the RTA’s application to the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Climate Pollution Reduction Grant program would allow the transit agencies to make a transformative investment toward a zero-emission fleet.

CHICAGO, APRIL 12, 2024 – The Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) is seeking $375 million in federal grant funding to fight climate change in the Chicago region. “Transforming Transit: Accelerating a Zero-Emission Fleet in the Chicago region” would allow CTA, Metra, and Pace to purchase and deploy state-of-the-art green technology benefiting riders and residents over four counties, with a focus on communities overburdened by poor air quality and related health effects.

The project was submitted as part of the U.S. EPA’s Climate Pollution Reduction Grant (CPRG) program, which made $4.6 billion available through competitive implementation grants under the Inflation Reduction Act to fund projects that will reduce regional carbon emissions. The grant also supports a key initiative from the RTA’s regional transit strategic plan Transit is the Answer, to “Accelerate the transition to a zero-emission regional transit system and prioritize communities burdened by poor air quality.” The new buses and trains will allow providers to deliver service that is not only cleaner but also more reliable and useful for trips throughout the day.

If awarded, the CPRG funding would be a transformative investment in the fight against climate change in our region, funding the following investments:

  • $125 million for CTA to purchase up to fifty 60-foot articulated electric buses and two charging cabinets supporting up to 40 pantograph chargers to be housed in their 103rd Street bus garage and used on at least two of 25 routes originating in the historic Pullman neighborhood on Chicago’s Far Southeast Side – a historically disadvantaged community and one of the areas of greatest concern for pollution burdens and vulnerability.
  • $125 million for Pace to purchase up to eighty-three electric 40-foot buses to be housed in their North (Waukegan) and Southwest (Bridgeview) Division garages and deployed along 23 routes. Waukegan and Bridgeview are historically disadvantaged communities vulnerable to pollution and air quality issues.
  • $125 million for Metra to purchase 32 battery-powered trailer cars and 8 docking stations that will allow Metra to retire 16 of its oldest diesel locomotives and add service on three high-ridership lines: Union Pacific North, Milwaukee District West, and the Rock Island Beverly Branch. Metra plans to become the first passenger rail provider in the U.S. to introduce battery-electric trains.

Together the improvements included in Transforming Transit will reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the transportation sector by a total of 40,568 tons annually once fully implemented. In the near term, the project will result in a 135,506-ton GHG reduction from 2025 to 2030, and a cumulative 402,165-ton GHG reduction from 2025 to 2050. Additionally, the capacity improvements brought to the region by this grant will assist in “mode shift” from single occupancy vehicles to public transit, further enhancing the potential for emission reduction in the region.

“The RTA is proud to lead this regional effort towards reducing emissions,” said Leanne Redden, Executive Director of the RTA. “Transit is already one of the greenest modes of travel and offers everyone the opportunity to reduce their carbon footprint by foregoing car trips. We are dedicated to working together with CTA, Metra, and Pace to transform transit in order to improve air quality and bring state of the art infrastructure investments to some of our most vulnerable communities and residents.”

In line with the Biden Administration’s Justice 40 Initiative, the RTA, CTA, Metra, and Pace have committed to prioritizing investments in historically disadvantaged areas. This is especially true for improvements that combat climate change, where the operators have aligned their transition to zero emissions with this mission by largely deploying improvements in communities burdened by poor air quality and environmental justice issues first. Read more about specific areas of the region that will see improvements under Transforming Transit in the project summary.

CTA, Metra, and Pace have each committed to a zero emissions plans for the future of their transit systems.

This application is strongly supported by the congressional delegation, state legislators, regional elected and agency officials, community organizations, and nonprofit advocates from across the region. Read more letters of support.

Transforming Transit is the RTA’s commitment to lead the Chicago region’s transit system into the future recognizing that transit is the greatest tool in the fight against climate change both by achieving a zero-emission system, and by encouraging more people to shift from cars to transit.

Press Information

Melissa Meyer

Communications Manager
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