News & Updates

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).

Visit the 2023 Regional Transit Strategic Plan page for the latest updates on the strategic plan process. Subscribe to receive news from the RTA. View archived news and updates from 2021.


August 2022

Read the Regional Transit Update from August 19.

RTA unveils 2023 agenda for transit advocacy and action
After months of working together to develop recommended goals, strategies, and performance measures, the RTA Strategic Plan Stakeholder Working Groups concluded, and the RTA shared the 2023 Agenda for Advocacy and Action that outlines key priorities for the future of transit in northeastern Illinois. 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. If your organization would like a presentation about how the list was created, to discuss a role in acting on the items on the list, or to learn more about the coming strategic plan, contact us at Communications@RTAChicago.org.

RTA hosts Panel Discussion: Advocating for Chicago's Regional Transit 
On August 9, the RTA hosted a panel of Strategic Plan Stakeholder 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.

RTAMS launches Capital Projects Dashboard
As part of our continued commitment to transparency, the RTA has launched a new Capital Projects Dashboard, mapping more than 150 capital projects throughout the region. The dashboard includes a map that displays the location of projects in the 2022-2026 RTA Regional Capital Program as well as those being monitored by the Project Management Oversight team, providing a unique opportunity to see the distribution of capital projects throughout the region.


July 2022

Read the Regional Transit Update from July 1 and July 29.

Federal infrastructure dollars are flowing to the RTA system, with needed capital projects underway
Approximately $250 million in federal capital funding, largely from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), has recently been added to the RTA capital program for a total of $4.4 billion in capital funds available through 2026. While these funds represent just a small percentage of the IIJA funds that will be available to our region’s transit system in coming years, they will allow for needed progress on regional priorities now. The RTA and the service boards—CTA, Metra, and Pace—have prepared for this influx of funds through previous planning efforts and have already begun to spend on identified priority projects that will make the region’s transit safer, more accessible, and more efficient. Read more on the blog.

Explore 2021 RTA Local Planning projects and successes in interactive implementation report 
Every year, the RTA’s Local Planning department assists local governments throughout northeastern Illinois on projects that build on the strength of the region’s transit system through two programs: Community Planning and Access to Transit. These programs provide funding and technical assistance for local governments to plan for pedestrian friendly, multi-modal, equitable, and accessible communities. The RTA recently published its 2021 Local Planning Implementation Story Map, an interactive report of 21 RTA-supported projects around the region that are starting soon, in progress, or recently completed.

 

June 2022

Read the Regional Transit Update from June 3 and June 17.

Initial work on RTA 10-Year Financial Plan focuses on future regional budget gaps to inform strategic solutions
The 10-Year Financial Plan technical group, comprised of financial and planning officers from each agency supporting development of the next regional transit strategic plan, recently estimated that beginning in 2026, the system could face a $730 million annual budget gap assuming current service levels are maintained regionwide. The technical group is analyzing different financial scenarios to develop a menu of options for re-achieving balance between expected revenues and expenses.  These scenarios and options will allow the RTA and stakeholders to work together not only to develop funding solutions as part of the Strategic Plan but also to work over the next 2-3 years to implement those solutions and other actions needed to ensure that seamless transit is available in the future. Read more on the RTA Blog.

RTA holds Transportation Tuesday webinar series
More than 450 people attended a four-part webinar series hosted by the RTA in June called Transportation Tuesdays. The webinars included local and national experts discussing challenges and solutions to common planning issues. Read recaps and view the recordings of each session below.


May 2022

Read the Regional Transit Update from May 6 and May 20.

Moody’s upgrades rating on $1.7 billion of RTA bond funds
Moody’s Investors Service has upgraded its rating on approximately $1.7 billion of Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) bonds, reflecting “resiliency in the authority’s tax base following a rapid rebound in taxes after the drop in 2020.” Moody’s improved its rating of the RTA bonds, which are backed primarily by regional sales tax revenue, to A1 from Aa3.


April 2022 

Read the Regional Transit Update from April 22.

RTA convenes stakeholder working groups to discuss strategic plan goals, strategies, and metrics
As part of ongoing development of the next regional transit strategic plan, the RTA has begun convening working groups made up of a range of transit experts, riders, and other stakeholders. Three working groups kicked off in April and will meet through the summer to dive into major topics of the plan and provide recommended goals, strategies, and performance measures. 

RTA launches Financial Results Dashboard ad monthly summaries
The RTA reports financial results from CTA, Metra, and Pace on a monthly basis to compare actual results to budget. Starting in April 2022, the RTA has deployed two new ways to track ongoing financial results.

  • Finance Reporting Dashboard - This dashboard includes an overview of financial data monitored by the RTA. The data is reported to the RTA by CTA, Metra and Pace. Each chart shows actual monthly performance compared to budget.  By default, the dashboard shows systemwide results that combine all three agencies. Year-to-date performance for each measure is shown on the “YTD” tabs, which also contain a brief description of each measure. 
  • Monthly Financial Summaries - Starting with data from February 2022, the RTA will provide monthly written summaries of financial results.

RTA recognizes Service Board's work to fight climate change
Reducing carbon emissions and reliance on fossil fuels has never been more important, and public transportation is one of the strongest tools we have in the fight against climate change. This Earth Day, the RTA is recognizing the efforts of the CTA, Metra, and Pace to improve the sustainability of their modes by converting to electric fleets and exploring other climate-friendly actions.

  • Watch presentations from CTA and Pace to the RTA Board of Directors on their bus electrification efforts
  • Read more on the blog about how public transit in Northeastern Illinois is going green

March 2022

Read the Regional Transit Update from March 8, March 18, and March 31.

RTA launches Forward for All marketing campaign with CTA, Metra, and Pace
In late March and early April, the RTA launched “Forward for All,” a campaign to show that transit is essential to the recovery and ongoing vibrancy of the Chicago region, contributing to our economy and environment and enabling opportunity in ways and at a scale nothing else can. In the face of COVID-19’s impact on transit ridership, this initial phase of “Forward for All” aims to strengthen this trust and pride in the region’s transit system by building awareness of the economic, environmental, and quality of life benefits of public transportation. Future phases of the multi-year campaign will address challenges to the system and build support for comprehensive solutions stemming from the Regional Transit Strategic Plan currently in development by the RTA and slated for adoption in early 2023.

RTA opens Access to Transit Call for Projects
Mid-March, the RTA opened a Call for Projects for the Access to Transit program through May 20, 2022. The RTA launched the Access to Transit program in 2012 to fund small-scale capital projects that improve access to the regional transit system for pedestrians and bicyclists.To date, the program has funded 37 projects in municipalities throughout the region for a total investment of roughly $22.5 million in Federal, RTA, and local funds. Investing in pedestrian and bicycling infrastructure around transit provides a number of benefits for both local municipalities and the region.

    RTA receives thousands of comments on emerging vision, makes small changes 
    In March, the RTA presented input received on the Emerging Vision, principles, and outcomes for the next regional transit strategic plan. More than 260 people left nearly 1,5000 comments on the document, a high for RTA public comment. RTA staff made slight changes to the vision, principles, and outcomes to reflect a commitment to change and the importance of equity and climate change heard from commenters. These pieces will be part of the next step of plan development, the convening of stakeholder working groups to develop goals, strategies, and performance measures for the plan.

    February 2022

    Read the Regional Transit Update from February 18.

    RTA announces emerging strategic plan vision, seeks public feedback
    In February, the RTA released An Emerging Vision for the Chicago Region's Transit Systemwhich includes a proposed vision statement, principles, and outcomes for the next regional transit strategic plan. The document is open for feedback through March 11, 2022.


    January 2022

    Read the Regional Transit Update from January 14 and January 28.

    RTA launches Fare Programs Online portal
    On January 18, the RTA launched Fare Programs Online, a web-based online customer portal that allows people with disabilities and seniors to apply for, replace, and renew Reduced Fare and Ride Free Permits. The portal can be accessed at Fares.RTAChicago.org. This marks the first time these services are available online. Read more in a press release or on the RTA blog.

    2022 Community Planning Program of Projects released for public comment
    The RTA is accepting public comment on the 2022 Program of Projects for its Community Planning program. The program includes seven new projects selected from the Call for Projects held in October 2021. View the selected projects and submit a comment to applications@rtachicago.org by Friday, January 28, 2022.