CMAP and regional stakeholders finalize recommendations to address transit crisis

Transit plays a critical role in achieving the inclusive and thriving region the ON TO 2050 plan envisions. In addition to providing vital transportation options for our residents and workers, it drives our economy, helps our region respond to climate change, impacts equity, and more.

Transit connects people to jobs, education, social services, healthcare, and other essential services. It helps reduce congestion and enables more environmentally sustainable land use and development patterns. And transit provides access to all people across the region.

But our region’s transit system is facing a fiscal cliff — a $730 million annual budget gap. The three agencies that operate bus and rail services across the region are going to run out of funds when federal funding assistance runs out in 2026.

If a 20 percent cut was made to operations funding, that would equate to about 40 percent of service cuts. This could mean that more than 100 cities, towns, and villages across the region would lose access to Metra services. More than 20 Chicago neighborhoods and 6 suburban communities would lose access to train services and more than 150 bus routes would be cut. Transit cuts would impact local economies across our region.

The proposed Plan of Action for Regional Transit (PART) — a report with legislative recommendations to help address our current transit funding crisis — is in the final stages of development. The report includes recommendations that consider the financial stability of the transit system, system improvements, and mechanisms to make it happen — like reforms to revenue and governance. It also requires us to consider important issues like racial equity, climate change, and economic development.

Derek Douglas speaks while sitting at a conference room table with Julie Hamos and Amy Rynell.

Derek Douglas, of the Civic Committee and Commercial Club of Chicago, speaks during a PART steering committee meeting while Julie Hamos of the Office of Medicaid Innovation and Amy Rynell of the Active Transportation Alliance listen.

We are engaging partners at all levels — state, county, municipal, as well as the transit service boards and other groups. The PART steering committee will provide input on recommendations to the CMAP Board and MPO Policy Committee in September for approval before sending to the legislature and governor by the mandated January 1 deadline.