In 2012, the RTA and its partners -- CTA, Metra, Pace, IDOT, CMAP and CDOT -- developed the Chicago Regional Green Transit Plan, which described the environmental benefits of transit in the region and provided a roadmap to making the transit system greener. Among its recommendations, the plan included strategies to grow transit ridership and market share, promote transit-oriented communities, improve operational efficiency and green the transit system.
The RTA, CTA, Metra, and Pace together made progress in several areas identified in the Green Transit Plan. In addition to a host of operational improvements made by the three service boards, the RTA commissioned and oversaw four specific studies that help inform decisions about how to improve the system and increase mobility, in keeping with the Green Transit Plan:
- Flooding Resiliency Plan for Bus Operations. Completed in 2018, this project identified CTA and Pace bus routes that are prone to flooding during both average rain events and extreme weather events. A plan of recommendations was developed that identifies ways to mitigate flooding issues in the future as well as ways to reroute service during flooding events. Implementation of the recommendations will improve citizen mobility, minimize impacts and inconveniences to riders, and reduce negative impacts on operating costs and ridership revenues. The Project Final Report is available here.
- CTA Wayside Energy Storage System (WESS) Assessment. In 2017, the RTA and CTA assessed opportunities for deployment of wayside energy storage systems (WESS) on the CTA Red Line in order to take advantage of the regenerative braking capability of the CTA’s 5000 Series “L” cars. Although CTA does not plan to move forward with a WESS on the Red Line at this time, the information was valuable to the agency’s power infrastructure planning activities. More detail on the assessment, including a link to the final report, can be found in the Going Green section of the CTA Website under Clean Vehicles.
- Metra Wayside Energy Storage System (WESS) Assessment. In 2018, the RTA and Metra assessed opportunities for deployment of wayside energy storage systems (WESS) on the Metra Electric Line. Findings suggest that the return on investment does not justify installation of WESS under current conditions. The final report contains energy modeling findings and information on applicable WESS systems for potential future use.
- Metra Locomotive Alternative Fuel Study. Completed in 2019, this RTA and Metra investigated the feasibility of converting some portion or all of Metra’s locomotive fleet from diesel fuel to a form of natural gas or other alternative fuel. The results of the final report, along with other agency considerations, will inform Metra’s current and future locomotive purchases.
The strategies identified in the Green Transit Plan and the activities that followed have created a strong foundation for the agencies to improve the resiliency and energy-efficiency of the transit system going forward. The Green Transit Plan and related projects are completed but the ideals are carried forward as the agencies move ahead with the vision set forth in Invest in Transit and the capital improvements made possible by Rebuild Illinois.