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RTA Strategic Plan Stakeholder Working Groups conclude, discuss priority recommendations for 2023 Agenda for Advocacy and Action

August 18, 2022

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After months of working together to develop recommended goals, strategies, and performance measures, the RTA Strategic Plan Stakeholder Working Groups have concluded, and the RTA is sharing the 2023 Agenda for Advocacy and Action that outlines key priorities for the future of transit in northeastern Illinois. 

View the 2023 Agenda for Advocacy and Action 

The 14 items on the agenda came from the Stakeholder Working Groups, which met from April through June and developed a total of 28 goals and 131 strategies that detail how to meet the plan’s vision of “Safe, reliable, accessible public transportation that connects people to opportunity, advances equity, and combats climate change.” The RTA created the agenda to highlight items where we see the most urgency and collective energy from multiple organizations, and where it is practical to do the most immediate work following plan adoption in 2023. 

Advocacy items include longer-term, substantive changes to how our regional transit system works, and largely include changes that the RTA and Service Boards (CTA, Metra, and Pace) need support from other organizations, communities, and political leaders to accomplish, such as seeking new sustainable funding for transit or working with roadway agencies to prioritize transit-friendly streets.  

Action items have the potential to be more immediate. They may not be easy but will help address changing and unmet needs of riders and the communities we serve. These are things the RTA and Service Boards can take the lead to implement with the support of our stakeholders such as improvements to safety, accessibility, and affordability of transit. 

Advocacy items and action items go hand in hand and are essential to accomplish together in order to both secure the transit system’s financial future and ensure the system works better for everyone. The RTA will be sharing the agenda with a wide variety of people and groups over the next month. If your organization would like a presentation about how the list was created or to discuss a role in acting on the items on the list, contact us at Items on the list may continue to evolve as the RTA develops a draft plan, due to be published in late 2022.  


RTA Concludes First Stakeholder Working Groups  

In an effort to show its commitment to change (one of the three principles of the plan along with Equity and Stewardship), the RTA convened three Stakeholder Working Groups focused on Transit Service, Infrastructure Investment, and Financial Responsibility every other week from April through June to discuss issues facing the transit system and possible solutions. This broad engagement effort was a first for the RTA as transit continues to recover from the impacts of the pandemic and prepares to face a budget gap of at least $730 million annually starting in 2026. Memos summarizing each group’s work are available on the Working Group Hub. 

 Each group included transit riders, as well as representatives from CTA, Metra, and Pace, academics, advocates, and community organizations. To increase equitable engagement, members who requested it were compensated for their time and participation.  

On August 9, the RTA hosted a panel of Working Group members to discuss advocating for Chicago’s regional transit system, the working group experience, and what they hope to see from the plan in the future. The panel was moderated by Paula Worthington, Senior Lecturer and Academic Director, Harris Policy Labs, University of Chicago, and included panelists Andrea Reed, Executive Director, Greater Roseland Chamber of Commerce; Jesse Elam, Director of Strategic Planning and Policy, Cook County Department of Transportation and Highways; Scott Hennings, Assistant Director of Transportation, McHenry County DOT; and Rebeca Mendoza, President, Evanston Latinos. Watch the panel discussion.   

"It seems RTA has really taken a step forward by developing and implementing a strategic planning process that is very intentional, really trying to include a lot of voices, and reflect the desires of many different stakeholder groups throughout our region,” said Paula Worthington. 

“Evanston Latinos was founded in May 2020. So we are very new to this, and I was actually pretty impressed that RTA was able to find us.... I did think our voice was very important because of the time that we were formed and the particular group we work with. We work with immigrant, undocumented, mixed-status, and primarily Spanish-speaking community members in Evanston. They were part of the group that was essential workers... It was a pleasure to be included to share a little bit about their experiences as part of this process," said Rebecca Mendoza 

"One of the reasons I got involved in this plan is simply because I think we are stronger as a region when we work together, instead of our own unique siloes. It is important too that the outcomes of this plan are representative of all corners of the region. Not just the City of Chicago, not just Cook County, but including all the collar counties as well, which have very different transit needs than the more dense parts of the region.” said Scott Hennings. “We all learned from each other and we have a stronger product because of that." 

Learn more about the current phase of strategic plan development from a presentation to the RTA Board of Directors at their August meeting. 

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