RTA Executive Director Leanne Redden told a packed house at City Club yesterday that an investment in public transit is an investment in our economy and our future. Ms. Redden stressed that a dedicated, stable long-term revenue source will provide certainty and allow for the planning and execution of large capital projects, which is critical to our regional system’s future.
She told the group that our current regional capital budget contains no state funding, which is problematic, and that current federal funding cannot meet our needs alone. She spelled out that it would require an annual level of investment of $2.62 billion to bring our system into a State of Good Repair and move forward over twenty years. She pointed to other cities who are raising revenues and investing in their transit systems, such as New York, Dallas, Denver, Seattle and L.A., and urged us all to work together to make sure our region doesn’t fall behind. She cited slow zones, crowded trains and aging equipment as issues that could be addressed with proper funding.
More than 62% of workers coming to the Loop take buses and trains. The number of rides on CTA last year was 515 million—the eighth straight year in are row that the CTA provided more than 500 million rides. Redden emphasized that voters across the country know the value of regional transportation. Last November, 79% of the transit initiatives on ballots passed, representing 11 of 14 across the nation. The investment in transit supports and creates jobs, additional sales, increased worker income as well additional tax revenues.