Despite State reductions in operating funds, CTA spending plan includes significant capital investment in modernization, including funding to expand accessibility citywide and extend the Red Line south
The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) today proposed a balanced $1.57 billion operating budget that continues the agency’s unprecedented efforts to modernize its infrastructure and improve the CTA travel experience for customers across the city—while holding the line on fares and maintaining service levels.
“Public transportation is the great connector of Chicago, and this City has a fundamental obligation to ensure all residents of all communities have access to affordable, accessible and equitable transportation options,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “From extending CTA’s Red Line south to ensuring every CTA station is 100 percent accessible, I’m proud to say this budget reflects not only our priorities but most importantly – our values.”
“This budget is a balanced and responsible spending plan that reflects our commitment to keeping Chicago public transit affordable for communities across Chicago, while also making CTA travel as fast, smooth and safe as possible,” said CTA President Dorval R. Carter, Jr. “Despite the continued cuts by the state legislature to CTA operating funds, we are grateful to Mayor Lightfoot and Governor Pritzker for fighting to finally provide CTA with a capital program that will help improve and modernize our infrastructure.”
The CTA’s proposed $5.1 billion five-year capital budget for 2020-2024 continues more than $8 billion of historic transit investment completed, begun or announced since 2011. Those projects include rehabilitating rail stations and building new ones, continued expansion of the public art program, modernizing rail and bus fleets, removing rail slow zones and adding new technologies—work that improves reliability, reduces commuting times, strengthens safety and security, and improves the overall commuting experience.
Additionally, the 2020 budget includes $78 million in funding for the All Stations Accessibility Program (ASAP), CTA’s comprehensive plan to make all rail stations 100 percent vertically accessible. Announced by President Carter in 2018, ASAP is the first-ever blueprint for modernizing the 42 rail stations that are non-vertically accessible, as well as upgrading or replacing existing elevators system-wide.
Following a decade without a State capital plan, CTA received a significant funding commitment in 2019 with the passage of the State of Illinois’ Rebuild Illinois capital bill. The bill provides CTA with $1.2 billion in bond funding over the next five years and includes $141.5 million in earmarked projects, including:
- Cottage Grove Green Line station overhaul ($60 million)
- Blue Line O’Hare Branch traction power improvements ($50 million)
- Blue Line O’Hare branch station upgrades, downtown to O’Hare ($31.5 million)
CTA will also invest $310 million into the $2.3 billion Red Line Extension (RLE) project, which will extend the Red Line South by 5.3 miles and include four new, fully accessible stations at 103rd Street, 111th Street, Michigan Avenue, and 130th Street. This is the single most significant funding contribution that CTA has ever made towards the RLE project, and will fund engineering and design work needed to position the project to receive federal funding
Other capital projects to continue or begin in 2020 include:
- Phase one of the Red and Purple Modernization Program, which broke ground this fall and will include the construction of a rail bypass to meet current and future capacity needs and rebuilding four Red Line stations, and track and signal systems
- Your New Blue Signal Improvements
- Delivery of 20 new electric buses
- Delivery of 10 prototypes of the 7000-series railcar, CTA’s newest-generation railcar
In addition to the capital improvements, the 2020 budget includes more than $26 million in cost savings and operational efficiencies. Among the cost-cutting steps are a hiring freeze affecting 200 positions—an increase of 50 positions over FY2019—and locking in power costs at historically low prices. Since 2015 under President Carter, the CTA has achieved approximately $170 million in cost-cutting savings, operational efficiencies and additional non-farebox revenue.
CTA continues to be negatively impacted, however, by cuts made to its operating funds by the State of Illinois, Carter said. “CTA losses since the State cut our operating funds will total $180 million through 2020. We continue to call for the restoration of full operating funding for this agency so that we may better serve our customers.”
A public hearing will be held on November 13, 2019, at 6:00 p.m. at CTA headquarters, 567 W. Lake Street, second floor conference room, Chicago, Illinois, 60661. Written and oral comments will be taken into consideration prior to adoption of the proposed 2020-2024 Capital Program of Projects, 2020 Operating Budget and Program, and the Financial Plan for 2021 and 2022. This input will be welcomed at the public hearing or by correspondence addressed to Gregory P. Longhini, Assistant Secretary of the Board, Chicago Transit Authority, 567 W. Lake Street, Chicago, Illinois 60661. Input can also be sent via e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org or fax to 312-681-5035 or phone 312-681-5022. The deadline to submit written comment is Wednesday, November 20, 2019, by 12 noon.
The proposed 2020-2024 Capital Program of Projects, 2020 Operating Budget and Program and the Financial Plan for 2021 and 2022 will be available for public inspection, in standard size print and large print, on Thursday, October 24, 2019, and will continue to be available between 8:00 A.M. and 4:30 P.M. through Wednesday, November 20, 2019 at the CTA reception desk, second floor, Chicago Transit Authority, 567 W. Lake Street, Chicago, Illinois 60661. These same financial documents will also be available during this period on CTA’s website, www.transitchicago.com in both pdf and plain text formats.
Copies of the proposed 2020-2024 Capital Program of Projects, 2020 Operating Budget and Program and the Financial Plan for 2021 and 2022 are also available for review in standard size print and large print at the main office of the Regional Transportation Authority, reception desk, Suite 1650, 175 West Jackson, Chicago, Illinois 60604; 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; Jefferson Park Branch Library, 5363 West Lawrence Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60630; Avalon Branch Library, 8148 S. 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 Steet, Oak Park, Illinois 60301; Riverdale Public Library, 208 West 144th Street, Riverdale, Illinois, 60827; and the Skokie Public Library, 5215 West Oakton, Skokie, Illinois, 60077.
A copy of the proposed budget is also posted on the CTA's web site at www.transitchicago.com.