Links to the latest reports, news releases, enewsletters, blog posts, and other communications from the RTA can be found on this page. For questions or media inquiries contact Tina Fassett Smith, Director of Communications (Tina.Smith@RTAChicago.org 312-913-3256) or Melissa Meyer, Communications Specialist (MeyerM@RTAChicago.org or 312-913-3121).
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RTA Board of Directors approves ARP allocations
The RTA Board of Directors held two special meetings in November and voted to approve allocation of the third federal COVID relief funding package, the American Rescue Plan Act, which included nearly $1.5 billion for northeastern Illinois.
RTA and CMAP hold joint Call for Projects
The RTA, in partnership with the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP), opened a call for communities to apply for technical assistance from October 8 to October 28, 2021. The RTA Community Planning program offers technical assistance and funding to local governments and intergovernmental organizations to address local planning needs that intersect public transportation and land use. Through this assistance the RTA encourages municipalities in the region to develop walkable and more sustainable communities near transit stations and along transit corridors.
- Learn more about the 2022 Call for Projects online.
- Watch a video about the types of assistance available.
- Apply by October 28.
Making a Plan engagement period continues
As the RTA continues development of its new regional transit strategic plan, the agency is committed to engaging in conversations about the future of public transit in Northeastern Illinois. Making a Plan represents our effort to engage and collaborate with close stakeholders and the public. Read guest blog posts from
- Olatunji Oboi Reed, President & CEO, The Equiticity Racial Equity Movement, and Co-Chair, Transportation Equity Network
- Edith Makra, Director of Environmental Initiatives, Metropolitan Mayors Caucus
- Tom Kotarac, Senior Vice President Transportation & Infrastructure. Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago
- Ya-Ting Liu, Director of Government Affairs & Policy, Via Transportation
RTA begins Making a Plan engagement period
In September, the RTA kicked off Making a Plan — an engagement effort aimed at gathering and sharing initial input on the priorities, challenges, and opportunities that the plan should address. Making a Plan will include a guest blog series published on Connections later this fall with posts from leading transit voices, as well as opportunities for people to attend virtual events, take a public survey, and participate in an ongoing conversation on social media. The engagement also includes a series of guest presentations to the RTA Board of Directors over the next several months that will help the agency’s staff and leaders hone priorities and ideas to be carried out in the strategic plan on topics including transit system adaptation, infrastructure, sustainable funding, and equity, access, and climate change.
- Read a guest blog from Yonah Freemark of the Urban Institute
- Read a guest blog from Julia Gerasimenko of the Active Transportation Alliance
- At its September meeting, the Board heard from two speakers about the importance of inclusive engagement: Debra Shore, Commissioner on the Board of the Chicago Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, and Tanya Adams, Vice President of Inclusion and Diversity and Community Relations and Equity Manager at WSP USA. Tanya is also the chair of the National Board of Directors for the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials or COMTO. Read a blog that recapcap the presentations or watch a video from the Board meeting.
RTA receives upgraded rating from S&P, maintains AA+ from Fitch
Two credit national rating services shared good news about the financial outlook for the RTA in September.
- Fitch Ratings assigned an “AA+” rating to the RTA, which oversees financial and strategic planning for CTA, Metra, and Pace in the six counties of Northeastern Illinois.
- S&P Global Ratings revised its outlook for the RTA from “negative” to “stable” and affirmed its “AA” rating on the agency’s existing general obligation bonds. Collection of online sales tax and the infusion of federal stimulus relief dollars in 2020 were part of why S&P revised their rating, saying those factors “bolstered RTA's liquidity position and provide(d) important financial flexibility for the next 24-36 months as its service boards adjust to changes in ridership.”
- In July, Moody’s Investor Services also called the RTA’s outlook stable and upgraded the agency’s sales tax bonds from A2 to A1.
Read the Regional Transit Update from August 20.
RTA kicks off next Regional Transit Strategic Plan
At its August meeting, the RTA Board of Directors kicked off the next regional transit strategic plan with a workshop to discuss key themes for the successor to Invest in Transit. Collaborative development of a new strategic direction for the region’s transit system will occur over three phases and include a Strategic Planning track, a Financial Planning track, and a Communications and Engagement track, leading to adoption of the plan in early 2023.
- Watch the Board meeting (strategic plan workshop begins at 1:40:00),
- Read a blog post about the strategic plan process and timeline.
- Read a staff memo.
RTA leadership making the case for public transit
Following several news articles about increasing congestion, higher rideshare costs, and other transportation issues, RTA Chairman Kirk Dillard and Executive Director Leanne Redden published several pieces that make the case that transit is an irreplaceable part of the Chicago region's mobility future.
- Read a letter from Leanne Redden on the RTA blog, "Investment is critical for our transit system to continue to evolve."
- Read a letter from Chairman Dillard in the Chicago Sun-Times, "Pandemic and the power of public transit."
- Read a letter from both leaders in the Chicago Tribune, "Transit is irreplaceable for our future"
Comment on Section 5310 Program of Projects
Following a call for projects, 12 projects totaling $10.8 million in federal funding are proposed for the FY2020-2021 Section 5310 Enhanced Mobility of Seniors and Individuals with Disabilities Program. Comment on these projects may be submitted from July 1 through July 31. The RTA Board will vote to approve the Program of Projects in August.
- See Section 5310 web page for the proposed project applications and budgets
- Submit a comment by email to Section5310@rtachicago.org.
Public comment on performance-based Capital Allocation Structure
Continuing work on its Framework for Capital Investments from 2020, the RTA, CTA, Metra, and Pace collaborated on a new performance-based Capital Allocation Structure -- a transparent, equitable, and data-driven process for allocating funds that is informed by long-range planning, policy priorities, and performance metrics. After being presented to the RTA Board of Directors in June, the RTA is accepted public comment through July 1.
- Read the memo explaining how the new allocation structure would work.
- Watch a recording of the June Board meeting to hear more.
- Read about the allocation process in a blog post
New signage, system map help riders navigate return to transit
As riders return to CTA, Metra, and Pace following the pandemic, they can make use of more than 1,000 new signs at 19 transfer points and an updated map to help navigate the region’s transit system. The RTA's interagency signage program has continued work throughout the pandemic to make using the transit network seamless.
- Read more about how the RTA is working to improve system connections in a blog post.
- Download an updated system map with full routes for all three transit operators, accessibility information, ticket prices, and points of interest.
- Read a report on recent achievements of the RTA Interagency Signage program.
- Explore an interactive map of where signage has been installed around the region.
Transit agencies launch campaign asking riders to wear masks, ride responsibly
The RTA, CTA, Metra, and Pace launched a joint advertising campaign encouraging the public to continue masking on public transit. Although the CDC has recently relaxed guidance for masking for vaccinated individuals, masks are still required on public transportation through September 2021.
RTA mobility pilots explore solutions to first-mile, last-mile commute challenges
The RTA is committed to helping transit Stay Competitive, which is one of the goals of the agency’s 2018-2023 regional transit strategic plan, Invest in Transit. A recently published report examined two mobility pilots the RTA funded in the Chicago region to explore new partnerships and technology to solve first-mile and last-mile solutions.
- Read a report with lessons learned from pilots recently completed in Oak Brook and Bannockburn
- Read a blog post about how an RTA-supported pilot encouraged one rider to take transit rather than drive
- Explore the RTA-funded mobility pilot projects on an interactive story map.
COVID-19 Lapsed Rider Survey finds majority of riders plan to return to transit
The RTA released results of the first survey of its kind since the beginning of the pandemic finding that while 80 percent of "lapsed" riders intend to resume using transit, telecommuting may not return to pre-pandemic levels
- Read a press release about the survey and media coverage in WTTW, the Chicago Tribune, Crain's, Streetsblog Chicago, and WBEZ Reset.
- Read a letter from RTA Executive Director Leanne Redden about how the Chicago region's economic recovery depends on continued investment in transit, as well as a blog post about the survey's findings on current riders who were more likely to identify as essential workers, Black, and report lower incomes.
- Read a report with the full survey results.
Section 5310 Call for Projects
The RTA accepted applications for funding from March 22 through April 22 for $10.9 million in Section 5310 Enhanced Mobility of Seniors and Individuals with Disabilities grants aimed to improve mobility for seniors and individuals with disabilities by removing barriers to transportation service and expanding transportation mobility options.
- Read a blog post about how Section 5310 funding is helping improve mobility options for all.
- Visit the Section 5310 webpage to see applications received and the timeline for project selection.
- Explore an interactive map of previous projects funded by Section 5310.
New Community Planning projects selected
Aside from its impacts on transit, the COVID-19 pandemic has strained the capacity of local governments like never before. Following a joint Call for Projects with the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning earlier in 2021, the RTA six projects that will provide a special focus on high need and very high need communities, supporting their efforts to implement plans for the future.
- Visit the Community Planning webpage to read more about the projects selected.
- Read the 2020 Community Planning Implementation Report about how the program is making a difference in the region.
RTA Board approves federal relief funding to sustain critical transit for 2021
Following a public comment period, the RTA Board voted to allocate Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA) funds according to analysis done to determine transit Critical Need Areas (CNAs) most in need of funding during the pandemic.
- Read a staff memo describing the allocations and the Sustaining Critical Transit in 2021 report, which includes an appendix of public comments received from February 18 to March 5.
- Watch a YouTube video of the Board's March 18 meeting.
- Explore an interactive map that offers insights into how CNAs were being identified.
- Visit the Recovery webpage for more about the RTA's strategy in response to the COVID-19 pandemic
RTA updates Human Services Transportation Plan
Required by the Federal Transit Administration, the RTA maintains an updated Human Services Transportation Plan (HSTP) that identifies the transportation needs of individuals with disabilities, seniors and people with low incomes; provides strategies for meeting those local needs; and prioritizes transportation services and projects for funding and implementation. In March,the RTA Board approved an updated that sets nine goals for meeting those riders prioritized needs.
- Read the HSTP Update.
- Watch a webinar the RTA hosted with the Metropolitan Planning Council and the McHenry County Division of Transportation on improving transportation access and equity in the Chicago region.
- Read a blog post recapping the webinar and find resources sharing during the event.
RTA launches redesigned RTAMS site to provides user-friendly access to transit data
The agency released a new version of the Regional Transportation Authority Mapping and Statistics (RTAMS) website for users to explore, search, and study data from the Chicago region’s transit network.
- Explore the data and reports on RTAMS.
- Read a blog post about the features of the new site
- Subscribe to receive the RTAMS newsletter and other news from the RTA.