RTA to measure capital projects on equity, climate impacts, and more

February 2, 2023

221107 RTA 1614

The Chicago Region is home to one of the largest transit systems in the nation with approximately 1,500 miles of track, 7,500 vehicles, 400 stations, and 70 maintenance facilities representing an irreplaceable investment built over generations. The system’s stations, tracks, and garages need to be maintained and rebuilt to stay competitive and reliable for today’s travelers and to run cleaner and produce fewer emissions.

Capital programming is a core function of the RTA, that ensures that major transit investments are guided by regional goals, budgeted based on available funds, and completed in an efficient manner. Transit is the Answer, the new regional transit strategic plan available as a draft now, outlines 12 new evaluation metrics for capital projects in the Chicago region to track how these investments will help our transit system work toward major goals like equity, accessibility, climate, and more.

The strategic plan process included opportunities for the public and stakeholders to weigh in on the capital priorities for the region. This feedback highlighted a need to provide better understanding of project benefits, and additional transparency in the project selection process with a greater emphasis on climate impact and the rider experience.

The RTA convened the Priority Projects Technical Working Group made up of experts from CTA, Metra, Pace, and CMAP who considered this input and recommended additional improvements to the existing programming processes. They also considered new state legislation that mandates a transparent prioritization process for regional transit projects receiving State capital and calls out seven specific themes to include in evaluation. Overall, the group identified 12 new themes for evaluating capital projects beginning with the 2024-2028 Capital Program. Each evaluation theme has one or two proposed metrics (15 in total) that will be evaluated and reported on going forward.

The new themes speak to the plan’s vision, “Safe, reliable, accessible public transportation that connects people to opportunity, advances equity, and combats climate change” and core principles that guide the plan: Equity, Committed to Change, Stewardship.

The evaluation themes are:

  • Access to key destinations
  • Racial equity and mobility justice
  • Economic development
  • Reliability improvement
  • Capacity needs
  • Safety
  • State of good repair
  • Climate impact
  • Customer experience
  • Accessibility for people with disabilities
  • Meet regulatory requirements
  • Impact on operating costs

These evaluation themes will be used starting 2023 as part of the 2024 regional budget process. Read more about plans for future Capital programming and funding in Transit is the Answer.

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Tagged in: Capital Programming | Transit is the Answer | RTA | CTA | Metra | Pace | Equity | Climate Change

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