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Reflecting on progress one year after adoption of Transit is the Answer

February 15, 2024

02 Feb TIA Anniversary

February marks the one-year anniversary of the RTA Board of Directors vote to adopt Transit is the Answer, the regional transit strategic plan that serves as a blueprint for the next several years of the Chicago region’s transit system. Over the past year, the RTA and its partners have worked to implement key parts of the plan and build a coalition of support around transit that will help achieve the plan’s vision of safe, reliable, accessible public transportation that connects people to opportunity, advances equity, and combats climate change.

Transit is the Answer articulates an agenda for advocacy and action, which represents the broader goals prioritized by the agency and stakeholders, that RTA and the Service Boards (CTA, Metra, and Pace) are aiming to accomplish. Central to this is securing sustainable operations funding for transit, realizing a system less reliant on fares but instead focused on impact. One key element to accomplishing these goals is to continue the rider and advocacy group-focused engagement that was critical to developing the plan to build a coalition around the value transit brings to the Chicago region.

Transit is the Answer Coalition

Over the course of 2023, the RTA held three formal Transit is the Answer Coalition meetings. Each had 75-100 attendees, many new faces and new organizations. In each meeting RTA staff presented a project the agency was working to advance, gathered insight and input from coalition members, shared feedback received with the RTA Board of Directors, and then used the discussion to inform its work.

In May, the RTA shared about its work to fully fund and expand existing programs for vulnerable populations, this includes ADA Paratransit and reduced and ride free fare programs. Coalition members provided input on how to equitably advance an expanded program, and RTA staff used that input to inform development of the Access Pilot Program with Metra and Cook County.

At its August Coalition meeting, the RTA explored holistic solutions to improving safety and security on transit, highlighting strategies that have been successfully deployed in other regions and gleaning what we may be able to apply locally. Again, this discussion and the input received informed content and planning for an upcoming safety and security summit.

At the third meeting in December, the RTA shared details on the Access Pilot Program with coalition members and sought input on advancing the 2024 legislative agenda. The RTA anticipates having the next coalition meeting in early April.

Project Implementation Progress
Below are Action and Advocacy Agenda items that the agency prioritized after adoption of the plan and the related projects now underway or completed to implement them.

The Access Pilot Program, which began on February 1, expands reduced fare Metra access to riders experiencing low incomes who are eligible for SNAP. This is the first major expansion of free and reduced fare programs in years and data from the program over the next 18 months will help inform future program changes.

In January, the agency launched the Transit is the Answer public campaign, a paid media campaign that highlights the value of public transit and the need for sustainable funding. It promotes awareness of the challenges the system faces and RTA's plans to address them in partnership with CTA, Metra, and Pace.

The RTA is also working on a Regional Transit Economic Impact Analysis that will quantify the economic and climate impacts of two scenarios – one a significantly reduced regional system that remains absent a sustainable funding solution and second a transformed system with investment beyond the projected shortfall, showing how much more benefit we can leverage for the region from a sustainably funded regional network.

The agency is finalizing resources for two planning studies outlined in Transit is the Answer – the Transit Friendly Communities Policy and the Transit Rider Information and Communication study.


Visit to keep up to date on progress on strategic plan implementation, or you can subscribe to the RTA’s Regional Transit Update newsletter for biweekly updates. Join the Coalition at

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Tagged in: Transit is the Answer

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