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Chicago RTA approves 2021 budgets, capital programs for regional transit

RTA's 2021 operations budget, for agencies that include Metra and CTA, is $3.02 billion, a 5% reduction compared with the pre-COVID plan.
Photo – Metra Facebook


The Regional Transportation Authority’s (RTA) board yesterday adopted a 2021 regional transit budget and five-year capital program for agencies that include Metra and the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA).

The 2021 operations budget is $3.02 billion, a 5% reduction of $157.4 million compared with the pre-COVID plan. The 2021-2025 capital program of $6.4 billion dollars is 23.5%, or nearly $2 billion less than the previous five-year program. The 2021 portion of that five-year program is nearly $1.5 billion.  

The budget and capital program relies in part on whether Congress passes a new COVID-19 pandemic relief package. Without additional federal relief, the northeastern Illinois system would face an operating shortfall of more than $500 million in 2021, RTA officials said in a press release.

CTA and Metra operations have been able to continue this year due to a previous $1.4 billion infusion from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act that Congress passed in late March. Those funds will begin to run out in the first half of 2021, RTA officials said. 

The 2021-2025 capital program — which funds infrastructure, vehicles and equipment as opposed to daily operations — draws on a mix of sources: 53% from the federal government; nearly 18% from Illinois’ motor fuel tax revenue; nearly 17% from state bond funds; 2% from RTA funds; and nearly 10%  from local funds consisting of CTA bonds.

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More News from 12/18/2020