All great cities and regions have robust transit systems, and those that don’t are racing to build them. Public transportation is a cornerstone of any great city’s existence. Not only do we have one, but we have the second largest in the country!
With that big picture in mind, we want people to focus on how to protect and enhance our investment in transit, one that has been built upon for decades and is at a crucial stage, where continued under-investment is pushing the limits of how hard the system can work to keep it all moving, and where our investment is at risk.
Now is the time to act.
The RTA Board of Directors today approved Invest in Transit, the 2018-2023 Regional Transit Strategic Plan. This new regional plan sets a bold, yet practical, vision for “public transit as the core of the region’s robust transportation mobility network.” Our intention is that this plan lays out the what, where and why investment is needed for transit in the region. We should be investing $2 to $3 billion in capital each year to keep our system in good shape and move forward with new innovations. However, we’re currently not even investing half of that each year.
A companion document, Invest in Transit Priority Projects, describes specific, tangible capital priorities for CTA, Metra, and Pace. A portion of the funding required to advance some of these projects is programmed in the current Transit Agency capital programs, yet all are still underfunded or un-funded, with a regional need totaling $30 billion over the next ten years.
RTA, CTA, Metra and Pace (Transit Agencies) are already doing what we can with fare increases, TIF funding, and other local solutions to the problem. Ultimately, we must find a sustainable funding source that will enable us to continue to provide excellent service to our riders and fund the capital projects that will keep us competitive.
The plan adopted today is the culmination of two years of research, close collaboration with the Transit Agencies, and outreach to a network of stakeholders. Public input was encouraged through hearings and online comments late last year.
Over the next couple of weeks on the blog, I’ll be taking a closer look at the goals and strategies of the Strategic Plan to show all the benefits of investing in transit. Stay tuned!