2023 Regional Transit Strategic Plan

Transit spurs economic growth, mitigates climate change, and enables opportunity in ways and at a scale nothing else can. The Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) is developing a strategic and financial plan to guide our region’s irreplaceable transit system over the next five years and beyond. We have developed a vision, principles, and outcomes for the plan based on six months of engagement.

Vision: Safe, reliable, accessible public transportation that connects people to opportunity, advances equity, and combats climate change.

Principles

  1. Committed to change
  2. Equity
  3. Stewardship

Outcomes

Six months of public engagement and stakeholder discussions have informed six desired outcomes for the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA)’s next regional transit strategic plan: three outcomes are focused on the kind of transit system we want to work toward and three are focused on the kind of region a great transit system can help build.

In the future our region’s transit system will be…  ​

  • Safe, accessible, reliable, and useful for riders  ​
  • In a state of good repair     ​
  • Financially stable 

In the future our region will be…  ​

  • Connected   ​
  • Winning the fight against climate change​
  • Thriving

Timeline and process 

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, shown below. 

The Financial Planning process will include 2022 and 2023 budget development while also conducting longer-term financial planning culminating with a 10-Year Financial Plan to accompany the Strategic Plan. The purpose of this task is to proactively prepare the region and decision-makers for future actions that may need to be taken to ensure financial sustainability of transit when the federal relief dollars are expended.  

The Strategic Planning track will provide a forum for the RTA Board and stakeholders to set a new vision for the transit system; to identify the capital projects and other supporting elements needed to achieve that vision; and to have insightful conversations about the trade-offs between visionary ideals and funding realities. The purpose of this task is to develop a new Regional Transit Strategic Plan that outlines a shared vision of priorities for the transit systems in 2023 and beyond.  

The Communications and Engagement track will ensure that the RTA Board, stakeholders, and the public remain informed about the process, have opportunities to engage, and are made aware of outcomes. The track will include educational materials, means for providing input, and promotion of RTA’s activities so that all interested parties are invited and encouraged to participate fully.  

How to get involved 

From September-December 2021, the RTA will kick off initial engagement activities to better understand the challenges and opportunities facing our region’s transit system. The engagement effort, called Making a Plan, will include multiple initiatives to engage and collaborate with the agency’s close audiences and the public. Activities in this initial stage will include a series of guest speakers at upcoming RTA Board of Directors meetings, a public survey, small stakeholder workshops, and a guest blog series on the RTA blog, Connections. There will be more opportunities for engagement throughout plan development in 2022 as well and comments are always welcome at communications@rtachicago.org

Latest updates on the strategic plan 

Subscribe to the Regional Transit Update e-newsletter for regular updates on the 2023 Regional Transit Strategic Plan or read recent updates below. 

March 2022
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.

  • Read a memo on the Emerging Vision which includes all comments received between February 17 and March 11

February 2022
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 was open for feedback through March 11, 2022.

January 2022
In January, the RTA continued its season of listening, Making a Plan, with several stakeholder workshops to summarize what has been heard during plan engagement so far and get feedback on emerging principals, outcomes, and a vision for the plan.

The guest blog series concluded with posts from:

  • Leaders from each Service Board: 
  • Yousef Salama, Deputy Executive Director for Research, Programming, and Analysis, Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning
  • Rochelle Jackson, Community Activist and Chair, Transportation/Infrastructure Committee, North Lawndale Community Coordinating Council 

December 2021
In December, the RTA Board of Directors heard from guest speakers Dr. Judy Shanley, Assistant Vice President, Easterseals Education and Youth Transition Program, and Jim Aloisi, former Secretary of Transportation of Massachusetts about how the RTA strategic plan process can address funding sustainability and accessibility for all.

The guest blog series continued with a post from:

  • Jesse Elam, Director of Strategic Planning and Policy at the Cook County Department of Transportation and Highways

November 2021
In November, the RTA hosted a public forum called "Emerging from Crisis Wiser, Reimagining Regional Transit" with the Urban Transportation Center at the University of Illinois-Chicago as part of its Fall Seminar Series. Panelists with local and national perspectives discussed the challenges and opportunities facing public transit.

The RTA also launched a Strategic Planning Public Survey to gather feedback on priorities in strategic plan development. Everyone is encouraged to take, and share, the survey.

The guest blog series continued with posts from:

  • Kevin Considine, President and CEO, Lake County Partners
  • Audrey Wennink, Director of Transportation, Metropolitan Planning Council
  • Kate Lowe, Associate Professor, University of Illinois-Chicago

October 2021
At its October meeting, the RTA Board of Directors heard from Benjamin de la Peña, CEO of the Chicago-based Shared-Use Mobility Center, and Jody Holton, Assistant General Manager, Planning at the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority or SEPTA, about transit system adaptation, or changes the transit system can make to adapt to the evolving needs of riders.

The guest blog series also continued with 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
  • John Loper, Chief Transportation Planner, DuPage County Division of Transportation  

September 2021
At its September meeting, the RTA Board of Directors heard from  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. Both speakers highlighted the importance of engagement, outreach, equity, and inclusion in the strategic plan process.

The RTA launched a guest blog series to share their voices including posts from:

August 2021
At its August meeting, the RTA Board of Directors kicked off the 2023 Regional Transit Strategic Plan with a workshop to discuss key themes for the successor to Invest in Transit.