News and Updates Archive

This page is an archive of news and updates from the RTA in 2021. Visit for the latest from the Regional Transportation Authority.

December 2021

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

RTA Board approves 2022 Regional Transit Budget
On December 16, the RTA Board of Directors voted to adopt the 2022 Proposed Operating Budget, Two-Year Financial Plan, and Five-Year Capital Program, which uses federal relief funding to support operations as pandemic recovery continues. The RTA received approximately 500 comments, the vast majority of which were in favor of the region's transit system moving more swiftly toward full electrification of its bus fleet. Additionally, for the first time this year, the agency has launched a new searchable database of all capital projects on its data website, RTAMS. Users can download data on each project, see maps of the project location and benefit area, and filter projects by different criteria.

RTA holds virtual public hearing on 2022 budget
The RTA held a virtual public hearing on the 2022 Proposed Operating Budget, Two-Year Financial Plan, and Five-Year Capital Program on December 1. Executive Director Leanne Redden gave an overview of the budget, which includes a $3.4 billion operating budget and a $5.261 billion five-year capital program. No fare increases for riders are included in the proposed budgets from CTA, Metra, or Pace. More than a dozen residents spoke at the public hearing, mostly to voice their thoughts on bus electrification and encourage a quicker transition from fossil fuels.

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

  • Jesse Elam, Director of Strategic Planning and Policy, Cook County Department of Transportation and Highways
  • Kevin Considine, President and CEO, Lake County Partners
  • Audrey Wennink, Director of Transportation, Metropolitan Planning Council
  • Kate Lowe, Associate Professor, University of Illinois-Chicago

November 2021

Read the Regional Transit Update from November 19.

Service Boards present 2022 budgets, RTA accepts public comment
The RTA reviews, adopts, and monitors the annual operating budgets and five-year capital programs of all three Service Boards (CTA, Metra, and Pace) each year. In November, the RTA Board heard budget presentations from each Service Board and opened a public comment period on the 2022 RTA Operating Budget, Two-Year Financial Plan, and Five-Year Capital Program. 

RTA launches Strategic Plan Survey 
In an effort to hear from stakeholders and the public during the Making a Plan engagement phase of regional transit strategic planning, the RTA launched the Strategic Plan Survey on November 11. The survey results and other streams of engagement will be used to help prioritize issues for the upcoming strategic plan

UIC and RTA host panel discussion on the future of transit
As part of its Making a Plan engagement effort, the RTA and the Urban Transportation Center at UIC held a forum of November 11 titled, "Emerging From Crisis Wiser, Rethinking Regional Transit." Panelists from the RTA, Center for Neighborhood Technology, Lake County Partners, and Transit Center discussed the challenges and opportunities facing transit over the next several years.

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.

RTAMS adds Mapping and GIS Portal
The RTA has launched a new Mapping and GIS Portal connected to its RTAMS data website. The portal contains mapping apps and dashboards of RTA initiatives, interactive and downloadable GIS data, printable maps, shapefiles, and GTFS data about the Chicago region’s transit system. The portal is the first time all of RTA’s mapping and GIS tools have been collected in one user-friendly experience. 

October 2021

Read the Regional Transit Update from October 1October 15, and October 22.

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. 

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

September 2021

Read the Regional Transit Update from September 2 and September 17.

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.

August 2021

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.

July 2021

Read the Regional Transit Update from July 1 and July 16 and July 28.

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. 

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.

June 2021

Read the Regional Transit Update from June 9 and June 18

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.

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.

May 2021

Read the RTA COVID Update Newsletter from May 12 and May 26.

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.

  • Read a blog post about the campaign
  • Explore the assets in a toolkit and help share the campaign

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.

April 2021

Read the RTA COVID Update Newsletter from April 16 and April 28.

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 

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. 

March 2021

Read the RTA COVID Update Newsletter from March 3March 19, and March 31.

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.

February 2021

Read the RTA COVID Update Newsletter from February 10 and February 19.

January 2021

Read the RTA COVID Update Newsletter from January 13 and January 27.

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.