Additional financial support from Congress critical to maintaining the CTA service that’s carried Chicago through the pandemic
The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) today proposed a $1.64 billion operating budget that highlights the need for 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.
“Over the last seven months, the CTA has provided an essential service to those who needed it the most: health care workers, emergency responders, grocery and manufacturing workers, and those needing to make essential trips,” said CTA President Dorval R. Carter, Jr. “But in order to ensure we can continue to provide this critical service, we absolutely must receive additional funding from Congress.”
Congress has already supported public transit with a funding package earlier this year—funding that helped transit agencies across the country, including the CTA, to maintain service through 2020 and into early 2021. But further federal funding is needed to help transit agencies make up for continuing, unprecedented financial losses and lower-than-normal ridership.
Despite the challenges to the operating budget, which covers day-to-day service, the CTA continues to pursue much-needed capital investment. The proposed budget also includes a five-year Capital Improvement Program (CIP) of $3.4 billion, which is necessary to continue investing in modernization and capital improvement projects that will provide safer, more reliable service for customers, as well as an improved transit experience through the continued expansion of public art, removal of slow zones, upgrades to popular transit tools such as Ventra.
“Investment in transit infrastructure has always been an investment in a strong future for the city,” Carter said. “Further, continued investment in transit is directly tied to our city’s economic recovery, a way to promote jobs and opportunities at a time when the city needs them most.”
The CIP is supported by funding from Rebuild 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 with each dollar invested in transit it in turn 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 virtual public hearing will be held on November 12, 2020, at 6 p.m. Because of the pandemic and the Governor’s Executive Order prohibiting large public gatherings, the public hearing will proceed only virtually.
A link to view the hearing will be available at transitchicago.com/finance. Members of the public who wish to speak at the virtual public hearing are encouraged to submit their request prior to the hearing. Options for providing comment at the virtual hearing or for submission to the Chicago Transit Board on the proposed 2021-2025 Capital Program of Projects, 2021 Operating Budget and Program, and the Financial Plan for 2022 and 2023 are detailed below:
WRITTEN STATEMENTS: Written statements will be taken into consideration prior to the adoption of the proposed 2021-2025 Capital Program of Projects, 2021 Operating Budget and Program, and Financial Plan for 2022 and 2023. Written comments for the Chicago Transit Board’s review and consideration must be submitted by 5 p.m., Monday, November 16, 2020. Written comments may be submitted in any of the following ways:
Via US Mail, CTA Board Office, 567 W. Lake Street, 2nd Floor, Chicago, IL 60661
Via drop off at CTA Headquarters, 567 W. Lake Street, 1st floor mailroom
Via fax at 312-681-5035
Via email at GLonghini1@transitchicago.com
ORAL STATEMENTS: Members of the public who wish to speak at the virtual public hearing are encouraged to register prior to the hearing, by completing and submitting a Request to Speak form online at transitchicago.com/finance. Individuals registered online by 6 p.m. on November 11, 2020, the day before the hearing, will be called by the CTA, at the telephone number provided, during the November 12, 2020 hearing, to be connected to the virtual public hearing proceedings.
DIAL IN AT THE TIME OF THE HEARING: Members of the public may also dial-in, while the hearing is in progress, to request to speak, by calling 312-681-3091. Individuals who pre-register to speak will be taken up first at the virtual public hearing. Individuals who call while the hearing is in progress will then speak in the order that they call in.
Copies of the proposed 2021-2025 Capital Program of Projects, 2021 Operating Budget and Program and the Financial Plan are also available for review in standard size print and large print at the Archer Heights Branch Library, 5055 South Archer Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60632; Austin Branch Library, 5615 West Race Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60644; Harold Washington Public Library, 400 South State Street, 5th floor, Chicago, Illinois 60605; Austin-Irving Branch, Chicago Public Library, 6100 West Irving Park Road, Chicago, Illinois 60634; Avalon Branch Library, 8148 South Stony Island Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60617; West Town Branch Library, 1625 West Chicago Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60622; Woodson Regional Public Library, 9525 South Halsted Street, Chicago, Illinois, 60628; Evanston Public Library, 1703 Orrington Avenue, Evanston, Illinois, 60201; Evergreen Park Public Library, 9400 South Troy, Evergreen Park, Illinois, 60805; Oak Park Public Library, 834 Lake Street, Oak Park, Illinois 60301; and the Skokie Public Library, 5215 West Oakton, Skokie, Illinois, 60077.
At the virtual public hearing the CTA will afford an opportunity for interested persons or agencies to be heard with respect to social, economic, environmental and other related aspects of the proposed 2021-2025 Capital Program of Projects, 2021 Operating Budget and Program, and the Financial Plan for 2022 and 2023.
At the virtual public hearing, an American Sign Language interpreter and a Spanish interpreter will be provided. Individuals with disabilities who require other accommodations to review the budget or to provide feedback should contact Amy J. Serpe, Manager, ADA Compliance Programs, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 312-350-2301 or Relay.
A copy of the proposed budget is also posted on the CTA's web site at www.transitchicago.com.