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3/20/2015



Rail News: Passenger Rail

Illinois Gov. Rauner's budget would slash Chicago transit funding in 2016


Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner's proposed budget would result in a $169.5 million decrease in state funding for Chicago transit agencies for the 2016 fiscal year, including a 45 percent decrease in the Chicago Transit Authority's (CTA) funding, the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) announced yesterday.

The RTA — which oversees the CTA, Metra and the Pace bus system — estimates Rauner's budget would amount to a $130 million reduction for CTA and a $20.8 million reduction for Metra, which would represent a 60 percent decrease to the commuter railroad's state funds.

The cuts are primarily due to a $127 million reduction in the amount of state matches on total regional sales tax revenues, as well as the elimination of $34 million in funds used to administer state-mandated free ride programs for seniors and individuals with disabilities, according to RTA.

RTA's Executive Director Leanne Redden said the cuts were a step backward from financial progress the transit organizations have made in recent years. She cited CTA's elimination of a $308 million structural deficit since 2011 and Metra's multi-year capital improvement plan.

"Should these cuts be enacted, it would be difficult to avoid service cuts and fare hikes for CTA, Metra and Pace customers," Redden said in a prepared statement.

Noting that the entire system carries about 2 million passenger trips a day, Redden said the loss in state funds and consequential fare increases could result in more people using their cars to get around, adding to Chicago's already congested roadways.



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