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More funds needed to support regional transportation operations, CTA says

Last week, Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) chair and Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) board member Carole Brown introduced an amendment to RTA’s proposed 2005 funding levels for Chicago-area public transportation agencies.

CTA, Northeast Illinois Regional Commuter Railroad Corp. (Metra) and bus agency Pace need additional operating funds in order to maintain current service levels, continue capital projects already under way and enable the agencies to meet RTA’s required farebox recovery ratio, according to Brown.

To help fund operations, RTA has proposed transferring capital dollars to the operating side, which would break the agencies’ existing federal grant agreements. More than 90 percent of CTA’s federal capital funding already is committed to projects, such as the Blue Line rehabilitation, Brown Line capacity expansion and Dan Ryan branch of the Red Line reconstruction. If RTA doesn’t provide matching local funds, CTA could lose more than $500 million in capital funds, according to a prepared statement.

In fiscal-year 2005, CTA is facing a $75 million operating budget shortfall. Since 1985, the inflation-adjusted amount of public funding to operate the region’s public transit services has fallen. Adjusted for inflation, CTA received about $397 million in 2004 for rail and bus operations compared with $491 million in 1985, according to the authority.

The RTA board and staff currently are reviewing the amendment and will hold a special meeting later this month to vote on the proposal.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 9/9/2004