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2023 will be an important year for the Chicago region’s transit system, here’s what the RTA is planning

January 5, 2023

22 RTA 1054

2023 will be a critical year for the Chicago region’s transit system, which contributes to our region’s economic, social, and environmental health in ways and at a scale nothing else can.

In February, the RTA Board of Directors will consider adoption of Transit is the Answer, the five-year regional transit strategic plan, which was informed by an unprecedented level of rider and stakeholder engagement over 18 months. The plan details how investing in our transit system can help the region address some of its most urgent challenges.

Following adoption, the RTA, along with CTA, Metra, and Pace, will immediately work together to implement changes that will improve the transit experience and ensure funding for the future.

The region’s transit system is expected to experience a $730 million annual operating deficit starting in 2026. During the planning process, the RTA, with experts from CTA, Metra, Pace, and CMAP, analyzed 27 federal, state, and local options for new revenue and identified the 11 options with the most potential to fairly contribute to stable funding.

In 2023, we will take affirmative steps forward to secure increased funding for transit operations and make the system less reliant upon fare revenue through:

  • Executing a broad public outreach campaign of education about transit funding and continuing to engage a coalition that will secure sustainable, ongoing funding.
  • Collaborating with regional partners to identify funding options and developing revenue proposals.
  • Obtaining continued recovery ratio relief from the Illinois legislature while developing permanent funding structural reform.

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In 2023, we will deliver a set of new regional transit initiatives that will make the system better for riders including:

  • Convening a region-wide, cross-sector safety and security summit to facilitate information sharing and explore holistic solutions to the challenges affecting transit.
  • Seeking funding to pilot an expanded regional free or reduced fare program available to people experiencing low incomes to make the system more affordable and advance understanding about the barriers that fares present to riders.
  • Commissioning an independent review of the accessibility and quality of rider communication, signage, and information-sharing across and between agencies.

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In 2023, we will collaboratively begin development of three regional action plans to program investments that support a thriving region including:

  • A regional blueprint for improved accessibility that builds upon existing Service Board plans and provides a comprehensive inventory of capital projects and supporting infrastructure improvements needed to achieve a fully accessible regional transit system.
  • A regional transit climate action plan that builds upon existing Service Board plans and identifies how transit can support the region’s climate action goals, outlines regional strategies that will encourage more people to ride transit, and charts a course to reduce the footprint of the transit system and move toward zero-emissions for transit operations.
  • A transit-friendly communities policy, updating the RTA’s Setting the Stage for Transit report, to set standards for communities and hold them accountable for land-use decisions and improving access to transit to ensure that our riders can travel safely and efficiently.

These tasks will be undertaken jointly by the agencies, in addition to and in collaboration with other activities outlined in key plans issued by all three agencies recently including:

  • CTA’s customer-focused “Meeting the Moment: Transforming CTA’s Post-Pandemic Future” Action Plan released in August 2022 that includes strategic initiatives designed to immediately respond to riders’ most pressing challenges.
  • Metra’s new strategic plan “My Metra, Our Future,” released for public comment in October 2022, that includes a revised vision, mission, and goals for the agency and will serve as a roadmap to the future of Metra.
  • Pace’s current strategic vision “Driving Innovation” adopted in September 2021 that establishes major planning and policy initiatives and priorities for the coming years

Stay informed

Sign up for our newsletter to stay informed on these activities as they proceed, and join our Transit is the Answer coalition to take action and advocate with us for our transit system’s future.

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Tagged in: Transit is the Answer | RTA | CTA | Metra | Pace

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