The recent media volley between
Metra, Pace and CTA has netted one positive: heightening the public’s sense of
urgency that the time is now to improve the region’s public transit system. All
three service providers – and their riders – have made it clear that commuter
rail and bus lines are crucial to the region’s economic health, and that more
money is needed to maintain and improve these vital systems.
However, what should have been a
healthy debate among Metra, Pace and CTA officials about how best to serve the
region’s public transit riders unfortunately has lapsed into a bicker-fest.
Instead of building consensus toward a regional solution in the fall veto
session, leaders from the three boards have spent their time defending
themselves against one another. Meanwhile, the Regional Transportation Authority
(RTA) – the financial oversight and regional planning body of Metra, Pace and
CTA – sits idly by.
The RTA, which operates on a $16.4
million annual budget to coordinate efforts between the three transit operators,
must step into this debate and fulfill its role as regional mediator. Before any
of the threatened service cuts bring the region to a grinding halt, transit
riders – many of whom rely not just on one service provider, but rather on a
combination of Metra, Pace and CTA to get around – need the RTA to ensure that
all three receive the funding they need to maintain quality
Metropolitan Planning Council