Additional financial support from Congress critical to maintaining the CTA service that’s carried Chicago through the pandemic
The Chicago Transit Board today approved a $1.64 billion operating budget that is dependent on new federal funding to support public transportation across the United States. Though CTA will enter 2021 with no planned changes to service or fares, the agency depends on continued support at the federal level to achieve that goal.
For 2021, the CTA is facing an operating budget deficit of approximately $375 million—a shortfall caused solely by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the start of the pandemic in March, the CTA—like transit agencies across the country—has seen an unprecedented loss of ridership and revenue. Further, state sales tax funding that supports transit is well below anticipated levels. The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) projects that if Congress or the Administration do not provide additional emergency federal transit funding, six in 10 public transit agencies will have to consider service cuts or other cost-cutting measures.
”This budget is a reflection of our unwavering efforts to continue to provide essential transit services to all those who rely on it, despite the unprecedented challenges presented by the pandemic,” said CTA President, Dorval R. Carter, Jr. “As we look to 2021, the CTA remains committed keeping the City of Chicago moving, and at the heart of every decision made will be the safety, security and best interests of our customers and employees.”
Also approved by the Board today is a $3.4 billion, five-year Capital Improvement Program (CIP) of, which outlines continued modernization and capital improvement projects that will provide safer, more reliable service for customers, and an overall improved transit experience through the continued expansion of public art, removal of slow zones, upgrades to popular transit tools such as Ventra.
The CIP is supported by funding from Restore Illinois, the 2019 state capital program that was the first in more than a decade. More than half of the capital funding will go toward previously announced major projects, including:
- Upgrade of the Cottage Grove Green Line station ($60M)
- Blue Line O’Hare Branch power improvements ($50M)
- Advancement of the Red Line Extension project ($327.8M)
- Phase 1 station improvements under the All Stations Accessibility Plan (ASAP ($78M)
APTA estimates that each dollar invested in transit creates $4 of economic activity. “The devastating effects of the dual health and economic crisis only further highlight how much CTA’s long-term capital projects are urgently needed, and the importance of continuing to plan and identify funding for initiatives like ASAP and the Red Line Extension project,” Carter added.
Other capital projects to continue or begin in 2021 include:
- Testing of the 10 new 7000-Series rail cars
- Quarter-life overhaul work on 5000-Series rail cars
- Roll-out of newest all-electric buses
- Start of station and track structure construction as part of RPM Phase One
A copy of the 2021 budget is posted on the CTA's web site at transitchicago.com/finance/.