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11/1/2004



Rail News: Passenger Rail

Metra officials take a stand against CTA's funding proposals


During a special meeting held last week, Northeast Illinois Regional Commuter Railroad Corp. (Metra) officials addressed Chicago Transit Authority’s (CTA) campaign to change the state’s transit funding formula.

Established by the state in 1983, the formula determines funds based on geographic boundaries and retail spending. CTA officials believe the formula should be based on ridership, service and performance.

"There is a need for additional funding for mass transit in this region. The CTA is right on that score," Metra Executive Director Phil Pagano told meeting attendees, according to a prepared statement. "But it is wrong to promote a campaign that, in effect, would have the CTA taking money from Pace and Metra. Or to be talking about a future restructuring of new funds, which would provide less money to the suburban region for service improvements and expansion."

CTA claims it registers more than 80 percent of the region’s commuter trips, but that figure is based on unlinked trips, said Pagano. For example, a commuter transferring from one CTA train to another would be counted as two trips.

When ridership is based on passenger miles, CTA accounts for 51 percent of total passenger miles in the Chicago area, while Metra and Pace bus service account for 42 percent and 7 percent, respectively, Metra officials believe.

In addition, since Chicago’s Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) was formed in 1984, CTA’s share of passenger miles has declined from 61 percent to 51 percent while Metra’s has increased from 34 percent to 42 percent, officials claim. During the same period, CTA’s ridership has declined 25 percent while Metra’s has increased 25 percent.

Under the current funding formula, CTA receives 60 percent of RTA dollars compared with 40 percent shared by Metra and Pace.



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