H. Michael Miley (cc)
CTA trains are running well and attracting more crowds.
The Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) commends the Chicago Transit Authority’s 2015 budget proposal. Over the past four years, the transit authority has made great strides toward balancing its budget, has generally increased its ridership and has invested appropriately in the upgrade of the system’s most important physical infrastructure.
The Chicago Transit Authority has been a good steward of taxpayer support and the fares paid by its riders. The agency’s costs per passenger served are lower than those of peer agencies all around the country. The agency is increasing rail service next year without increasing fares—a sign of stable, good management.
Yet the transit authority’s ability to provide the transit service our region needs is constrained by the limited public support we have given it. In order to address these funding concerns and the need to improve service in general, MPC recommends the following:
- The Chicago Transit Authority should work with the City of Chicago and Cook County to advocate for new, stable revenues dedicated for transit. MPC is working with a broad coalition to advance sustainable revenue streams for transportation in the general assembly next year; all options are on the table.
- The transit authority should work with the state legislature to identify state funds to cover the unfunded mandate to provide free and reduced-cost rides.
- The Chicago Transit Authority should focus on integrating planning for transit-oriented development into its transit projects and create a plan to develop the land it owns but does not use. Transit-oriented development produces a virtuous cycle for the transit authority; the agency can sell land, thereby contributing revenues to its budget, and developers can build new housing and commercial space, which will attract more customers to the transit system.
- The transit authority should continue optimizing its bus operations so as to reduce dwell times, increase speeds and reduce bunching, all of which could reduce bus operations costs. The transit authority should continue working with the Chicago Dept. of Transportation and the Regional Transportation Authority to implement bus priority measures on routes throughout the system, including off-board or pre-paid fare payments and transit signal priority.
Read MPC's full comment on the Chicago Transit Authority's 2015 Budget.