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Transit is the Answer

How can we address the most urgent challenges facing our region? Transit is the Answer.

The RTA has released a draft of Transit is the Answer, the 2023 regional transit strategic plan that has been in development for more than a year. The plan vision is safe, reliable, accessible public transportation that connects people to opportunity, advances equity and combats climate change. 

Download the plan below, view a press release, and join our coalition.

Read the plan

This draft document is a plan for the future of transit operated by CTA, Metra, and Pace. This work is the result of more than a year of development, input from and engagement with thousands of people, including residents across the region, transit riders past and present, and hundreds of other stakeholders. It comes at a pivotal moment in the future of the region, and it presents RTA’s immediate commitments to improving the transit system, priority policies that need more support and are vital to a well-functioning system, and importantly, a critical choice that RTA, its stakeholders, and leaders must make together about how to fund our system going forward. 

Download Transit is the Answer

Learn more

The RTA held a virtual public hearing on Transit is the Answer on Wednesday, December 7, 2022. If you missed the meeting, watch the following video to learn more about how the plan was developed and the major topics it addresses.

The RTA has also developed a summary version of the plan in English and Spanish, and can translate this document into other languages upon request.

2023 Priorities

The plan includes a 14 item Agenda for Advocacy and Action, much of which will require partners and progress over time. Advancing the agenda starts now. RTA is committing to a set of Shared Regional Activities to begin implementing in 2023

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Take affirmative steps forward to secure increased funding for transit operations and make the system less reliant upon fare revenue through:

  • Executing a broad public outreach campaign of education about transit funding and continuing to engage a coalition that will secure sustainable, ongoing funding.
  • Collaborating with regional partners to identify funding options and developing revenue proposals.
  • Obtaining continued recovery ratio relief from the Illinois legislature while developing permanent funding structural reform.

Deliver a set of new regional transit initiatives that will make the system better for riders including:

  • Convening a region-wide, cross-sector safety and security summit to facilitate information sharing and explore holistic solutions to the challenges affecting transit.
  • Seeking funding to pilot an expanded regional free or reduced fare program available to people experiencing low incomes to make the system more affordable and advance understanding about the barriers that fares present to riders.
  • Commissioning an independent review of the accessibility and quality of rider communication, signage, and information-sharing across and between agencies.

Collaboratively begin development of three regional action plans to program investments that support a thriving region including:

  • A regional blueprint for improved accessibility that builds upon existing Service Board plans and provides a comprehensive inventory of capital projects and supporting infrastructure improvements needed to achieve a fully accessible regional transit system.
  • A regional transit climate action plan that builds upon existing Service Board plans and identifies how transit can support the region’s climate action goals, outlines regional strategies that will encourage more people to ride transit, and charts a course to reduce the footprint of the transit system and move toward zero-emissions for transit operations.
  • A transit-friendly communities policy, updating the RTA’s Setting the Stage for Transit report, to set standards for communities and hold them accountable for land-use decisions and improving access to transit to ensure that our riders can travel safely and efficiently.

How we developed the plan

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The scale, complexity, and existential nature of the challenges that our transit system is currently facing demanded a new, inclusive process to develop this strategic plan. The challenges are too great for any one agency or organization to tackle on its own, and the RTA believes that it is only through coalition building — mutual learning and agenda setting — that we can rise to meet the moment. The RTA is committed to change, and the process we have followed over the past 18 months reflects that commitment. Every aspect of the plan, including its Vision, Principles, and action items have been created through collaboration and engagement with thousands of diverse voices over the past year.

Read more in the Engagement Report and learn more about the Working Groups convened to develop content for the plan on the Working Group Hub.

We Listened
We Co-created
We Coalesced

Related Documents

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CTA
Metra
Pace
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