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Illinois Gov. Rauner's budget would slash Chicago transit funding in 2016


Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner's proposed budget would result in a $169.5 million decrease in state funding for Chicago transit agencies for the 2016 fiscal year, including a 45 percent decrease in the Chicago Transit Authority's (CTA) funding, the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) announced yesterday.

The RTA — which oversees the CTA, Metra and the Pace bus system — estimates Rauner's budget would amount to a $130 million reduction for CTA and a $20.8 million reduction for Metra, which would represent a 60 percent decrease to the commuter railroad's state funds.

The cuts are primarily due to a $127 million reduction in the amount of state matches on total regional sales tax revenues, as well as the elimination of $34 million in funds used to administer state-mandated free ride programs for seniors and individuals with disabilities, according to RTA.

RTA's Executive Director Leanne Redden said the cuts were a step backward from financial progress the transit organizations have made in recent years. She cited CTA's elimination of a $308 million structural deficit since 2011 and Metra's multi-year capital improvement plan.

"Should these cuts be enacted, it would be difficult to avoid service cuts and fare hikes for CTA, Metra and Pace customers," Redden said in a prepared statement.

Noting that the entire system carries about 2 million passenger trips a day, Redden said the loss in state funds and consequential fare increases could result in more people using their cars to get around, adding to Chicago's already congested roadways.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 3/20/2015