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RTA approves $3.7 billion budget for CTA, Metra and Pace


The Regional Transportation Authority's (RTA) board adopted a 2013 budget and two-year financial plan, which authorizes a $3.7 billion budget for the RTA, Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), Metra and Pace.

The board also approved CTA's plan to pay off debt service on up to $1 billion in bonds for the agency's five-year capital improvement plan, RTA officials said in a prepared statement. The bonding was approved after CTA officials presented details on issues such as interest rates, and repayment funding sources and schedules.

Some of the projects that will be funded through the CTA bonding include track and structure repairs on the Blue Line and elevated track system, the replacement or upgrade of seven substations and the replacement of 706 rail cars, RTA officials said.

"The transit system is one more solid financial footing because for the second year in a row, critical capital funds won't be transferred to operations," said RTA Chairman John Gates Jr. "The service boards deserve credit for incorporating operational efficiencies to balance their budgets on a sustainable basis."

The budget approved $1.4 billion in operations expenses for CTA and $713.5 million for Metra.

Several projects will advance under the CTA's 2013 budget. Some of the agency's major initiatives will include slow zone eradication, Wilson Station reconstruction, 3,000 new security cameras, a Ventra open-fare payment system rollout and station renewals.

Some of Metra's projects will include Highliner cars, rail-car rehabilitations, Cicero and Fox River Grove station reconstructions, and enhanced coach cleaning.

The board also adopted a five-year capital program, in which capital funding will be applied primarily to rolling stock renewal and other projects designed to take care of the existing system. The transit system still needs "significantly more funding" for further maintenance, enhancement and expansion, officials said.

An RTA asset condition evaluation completed in December 2012 concluded that the system has a 10-year capital need of $30.9 billion to achieve a state of good repair.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 1/18/2013