RTA Study Shows Regional Transit Capital Needs Are $37.7 Billion Over Ten Years: Additional funding sorely needed to maintain and enhance the transit system

The Chicago region’s six-county 10-year public transit capital needs are projected to reach $37.7 billion according to the RTA’s 2016 Capital Asset Condition Assessment released today. These costs include maintaining aging infrastructure, upgrading trains and buses, repairing/replacing bridges, replacing tracks, rehabbing stations and making other improvements needed to achieve a State of Good Repair (SGR), a condition in which assets are operating at their full performance level.  The projected ten-year need is basically stable with the last Asset Condition Assessment reported by the RTA in 2014 indicating that the level of funding for capital investment has not been sufficient to lower the projected need.

The $37.7 billion need includes $19.4 billion of deferred investment or backlog and an additional $18.3 billion that is needed over the next decade for normal capital reinvestment. The Service Boards receive federal, state, and local dollars to fund capital projects.  With the State’s ongoing financial crisis, state funding in support of infrastructure has decreased significantly, further exacerbating the funding shortfall.

To both address the backlog of deferred investments and keep up with ongoing reinvestment needs would take approximately $2.6 billion per year for the next twenty years.

“The RTA and the Service Boards have determined that they require an annual funding level of between $2 and $3 billion per year over the next 20 years to maintain and renew our extensive transit network.  Transportation is a key component of the economic engine that drives the region” said RTA Executive Director Leanne Redden. “We cannot take our prior investments in transportation for granted.  A stable, dedicated, and on-going state capital program is more important than ever to allow our system to modernize and Chicago to prosper.”

The 2016 Report provides an overview of the current physical condition and 10-year capital reinvestment needs of area transit capital assets owned and operated by the CTA, Metra, and Pace as of December 31, 2015.  The report notes that Northeastern Illinois is home to the nation’s third largest transit network serving more than eight million residents and providing about two million passenger trips each day.

According to the report presented to the RTA Board today:

  • The CTA has ten-year capital reinvestment needs of $23.1 billion, representing 61.2% of the regional needs.  This amount includes a $12.5 billion backlog and $10.6 billion in future normal capital reinvestment needs, including replacement of vehicles, stations, facilities and track and structures.  CTA will benefit from a significant $1 billion federal grant received in support of the Red Purple Modernization (RPM) project.  RPM is a series of proposed major improvements to the North Red Line and Purple Line along the 9.6‐mile corridor from just north of Belmont station to the northern terminus at Linden station. This project will enhance station access along the corridor, expand platforms, and replace and modernize the structural system. The City of Chicago passed a new Transit Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district to further finance the RPM project.
  • Metra’s ten-year reinvestment needs are $12.0 billion with $6.1 billion in backlog and $5.9 billion in normal capital reinvestment, most of which includes deferred bridge and vehicle replacements and rehabilitations.  Metra’s needs represent 31.9% of the region’s needs.  Metra’s five-year capital program includes nearly $0.6 billion for the modernization of its fleet and another $185 million for track and structure work including major bridge improvements along the Milwaukee District West, and Union Pacific commuter lines and a major track project on the Union Pacific West.  Metra implemented a 5.8% average fare increase on Feb. 1st to provide additional revenue for their capital program.
  • Pace’s ten-year reinvestment needs total $2.6 billion with a $755 million backlog and $1.8 billion in normal capital reinvestment, which represents almost 7% of the regional needs.  Pace’s five-year capital program focuses on the purchase of new buses with over $200 million in rolling stock improvements.  Funding is also provided for support facilities, such as bus garages.

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