The Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) Board of Directors adopted this week, the 2017 operating budgets for the RTA, Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), Metra and Pace, totaling $3.0 billion. The Board also adopted a five-year capital program in the amount of $5.1 billion. This includes an estimated $1.8 billion in capital expenditures for 2017.
“This productive budget season began with the RTA and Service Boards reaching agreement on operating funding allocations through a collaborative process almost a month ahead of the statutory deadline for the second year in a row,” said Leanne Redden, RTA executive director. “In addition, this budget continues to allocate a share of non-statutory funding to all three Service Boards; this had been previously limited to CTA and Pace. Finally, the RTA once again increased funds for the Service Boards by directly programming Innovation, Coordination and Enhancement (ICE) funds through the budget process.”
The $3 billion operating budget approved by the RTA Board will authorize operations expenses of the following amounts: CTA, $1.524 billion; Metra, $781.2 million; Pace Suburban Bus Service, $228.6 million; Pace Regional ADA Paratransit, $175.0 million; and the RTA $40.9 million.
Neither CTA or Pace plans a fare increase in 2017. The 2017 budgets will be used to benefit riders in the following ways:
CTA will continue working on projects that include: rehabilitating rail stations such as the Wilson Station Reconstruction Project; the 95th Street Terminal on the Red Line; selecting a final alignment for a proposed Red Line Extension from 95th Street to 130th Street; performing additional project engineering work and Phase 1 of the Red and Purple Modernization Program; and modernizing rail and bus fleets, removing rail slow zones and adding new technologies.
Pace’s 2017 plans include purchase of new vehicles for fixed route operation and substantial new fixed route services. Pace also plans to begin express services on I-90 at the conclusion of the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway reconstruction project and to launch the Milwaukee Avenue Pulse express bus service between Niles and the CTA Blue Line station at Jefferson Park.
Metra’s 2017 proposed budget will increase fare revenue by an average of 5.8 % and invest the resulting $16.1 million of revenue in the agency’s extensive capital needs. Metra’s 2017 plans include continuation of its program to rehabilitate some locomotives and railcars each year, to purchase new railcars, and to continue the multi-year effort to replace aging Union Pacific North Line bridges on the north side of Chicago and rebuild the Ravenswood Station.
The RTA will continue to lead the effort with the Service Boards to update the Regional Transit Strategic Plan due in 2018 as well as allocate funds to encourage ridership throughout the region from the agency’s Community Planning and Access to Transit Programs. The agency will continue to work with other transportation partners to fund design of improvements to Chicago’s Union Station that improve passenger capacity, service, safety, accessibility, and mobility issues. The agency will continue working to raise awareness of regional capital infrastructure needs and to advocate for a new, sustainable source of state capital funding as well as use its positive credit rating to affordably provide financing options, such as short-term borrowing and bonding, to benefit the Service Boards and riders.
For the third year in a row, the transit system cannot expect new capital money from the state of Illinois. The RTA estimates that in order to address the region’s growing backlog of capital needs and move forward, we should be investing $2 billion to $3 billion annually. The current capital program falls far short of that goal. Federal funds account for about 45% and CTA Transit Tax Increment Financing (TIF) funds account for 35% of the 2017 capital program. The CTA is primarily responsible for growth in the 2017 capital program related to its funding to support Phase I of the Red Purple Modernization project.
The budget process included a series of public budget hearings and presentations to the six-county boards to share information and gather input on the 2017 transit budget and capital program. View a copy of the transit system’s 2017 budget and capital program at www.RTAChicago.org.
About the RTA
The Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) is the only transit agency charged with regional financial oversight, funding, and transit planning for the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), Metra and Pace bus and paratransit. The RTA region serves two million riders each weekday in six counties with 7,200 transit route miles throughout Northeastern Illinois. The Agency also provides customer services including on-line and telephone travel planning assistance and travel training for seniors and people with disabilities. For more information, visit www.RTAchicago.org.