Transportation: Regional context and beyond; federal funding

A service of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference Transit Task Force and the HPKCC website To add or correct attn: Gary Ossewaarde. Join HPKCC and help build a caring community and build this website. Contact the Task Force chairman

Our Transit Website has been reorganized. Please visit successor page Transit Regional and Beyond. Transit website home.


Transit home. Transit News. January 27 2004 southeast hearing. SharedPath2030 Regional Plan. Peotone. Chairman's blog service.
Gray Line Proposal home. SECRET proposal for Metra Electric (Apologies to those sent to this page by Mike Payne's Herald letter. Appreciation to Mike for the plug.) Looming CTA crisis and the "formula fight"-here. Or in the CTA cut/hike page.
Visit Bus Route Changes home for that issue.

HPKCC continues to participate in consultation with state legisators.


The Chicagoland region failed in 2007 to get any of special congestion-reduction funds offered by the feds. Our proposals were too late and conceptual compared to those of 13 other metropolitan areas.

The transit agencies are cutting projects in light of a growing capital shortfall- and guess who gets hurt the worst by Metra?

Metra is cancelling the new Electric Line 143-car fleet that included toilets for the only line lacking them, a lack that was cited by our elected officials as evidence of neglect of the southeast corridor and inner city and African American residents. Now we are stuck with an aging fleet. Also cut is a new fleet maintenance facility near University Park.

CTA has cut planned purchase of busses, railcar overhauls and train signal improvements.

Planning and oversight for the Chicago Region is under Chicago Area Transportation Plan, Northeast Illinois Planning Council, Regional Transportation Authority (regulates and allocates for the three service boards--CTA, Metra, Pace), and is overseen by the Illinois Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Authority and Federal Transit Agency. Many other government bodies and independent organizations also engage in transportation planning and oversight. The 2030 Regional Transportation Plan and the '04-'09 projects (TIP) plan with air quality conformity are the big things they were recently working on. The draft or summary of the RTP plan: just go to or
E-mail comments to You can call 312 793-3481 or the hotline, 312 793-5041 (including to receive a copy). Mail address: CATS, Communications Division, 300 W. Adams St., Chicago, IL 60606. Note, the Conference has a paper copy and CD of the Plan. Regional Transportation Plan has the reasoning and goals of the Plan.

Compare with Chicagoland Transportation and Air Quality Commission ratings.

Only $9 billion of needed $20 billion for new intiatives is identified. $47 billion is for maintaining and upgrading existing facilities and $5 billion for varied arterial, bus, bike/ped and freight initiatives. Total of the plan is $61 billion. Some transit advocacy groups including CNT are faulting the mix as leaning too much to highways and leaving little for transit. Note that Metra service upgrade is in the fast (second) category. The public comment period formally closed September 2, see below. The committee met September 9 to review Received Comments prior to possible amendment and the final recommendation of the Plan to the full CATS Policy Committee.


Is a CTA funding and 'regional split formula' crisis looming? July, 2004
(For latest: CTA cut/fare hike page)

A dispute has broken out over announcement by CTA boss Frank Kruesi and Mayor Daley that CTA faces a steep deficit in the hundred million dollar range that may lead to fare hikes and to sharp service cutbacks, including to night service. Analysts blame the problem partly on what they see as declining public subsidy of CTA vis a vis other service providers due to 1) RTA shortchanging CTA, 2) lagging or falling city sales tax revenue compared to the suburbs, 3) An obsolete and unfair state formula of regional transit sales taxes rates and allocation among the city, suburban Cook, and collar counties and for its distribution to agencies, 4) the requirement to recover 50 percent of revenues from the farebox- and unfair interpretation of the same. (See Kken Acoff's analysis below.)

There is now a push-counterpush by city and suburban legislators to change these formulas and rules in their respective favor. Media describe any change this year as "highly unlikely." Departing RTA chief Thomas McCracken says CTA receives much discretionary funding so that the sales tax allocation has remained stable over several years: 60% CTA, 30% Metra, $10 PACE. Mr. Kruesi and the CTA have for several years said the formula must be changed. Our aldermanic offices assure that they are following this fight closely and are not inactive--one adding that indeed discrimination is being practiced including it seems by CTA in preliminary scenarios for cutbacks being developed and floated now --They add that that they are in touch with our local representatives. Note also the section on proposed superagency that follows.

Here is just one report on the subject. See a different analysis following. See also Campaign for Better Transit Analysis.


CTA FUNDING ISSUES by Kenneth L. Acoff, Jr.

On June 25, 2004, WGN-TV, the Chicago Tribune, and the Chicago Sun-Times all reported that the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) would be forced to increase fares and/or cut service throughout the system, due to a projected $50 to 100 million deficit for fiscal year 2004. CTA Chairman Carole Brown and President Frank Kruesi reportedly said these increases would be necessary due to inadequate funding from local and state governments. The reports also mentioned that overnight (OWL) service could be eliminated on bus and rail routes.

One advantage Chicago has over many other major U.S. cities is relatively easy accessibility to public transportation. However, CTA service cuts would cause the city to lose this advantage as more people will be forced to drive to their destinations—which would contribute to more road congestion and air pollution—and would make many potential residents consider relocating elsewhere.

People Affected:

Ø Low-income neighborhoods
Ø Senior citizens
Ø Work Commuters
Ø High School/College students
Ø Tourists and club and party goers

Potential Effects:

Ø Lack of access to employment centers for people without reliable car
Ø Less independence for seniors wanting to run errands and meet appointments
Ø Increase in traffic congestion and air pollution due to dependence on automobile
Ø Chronic absenteeism and tardiness for students and employees due to sporadic service and overcrowded buses and trains
Ø Increase in alcohol-related automobile accidents, injuries, and deaths due to potential loss of overnight (OWL) service for late-night party and club-goers.

RTA Statistics (2002 Annual Report at

Agency Agency Annual ridership (% of total system) Operating budget IL Taxes Allocated* (% of Op. budget) (% of Op. budget
CTA 457,300,000 (80.4) $964,449,000   $441,632,000 (46.0)
Metra 76,300,000 (13.4) $445,167,000 $238,955,000 (53.7   31.5
Pace 34,900,000 (6.2) $130,792,000 $79,052,000 10.4
TOTAL 568,500,000 (100) $,540,08,000 759,639,000 (49.3) 100

*Illinois State Taxes distributed through the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA)

Budget Concerns:

It has long been stated by citizens’ advocacy groups, like the Campaign for Better Transit (, that both the State of Illinois and the City of Chicago fall well below other states and cities in terms of public funding (i.e., tax revenues) for public transit. According to a study conducted by the Michigan Land Use Institute (, Chicago—the nation’s third most populous city and metropolitan area—lags behind the significantly smaller cities of Cleveland, Atlanta, and Miami when it comes to local tax dollars per-capita allocated to public transit. Furthermore, the less populous states of New Jersey and Pennsylvania contribute more tax dollars than Illinois—the nation’s fifth most populous state—to public transit. Because of these issues, the CTA—the nation’s second largest public transit system—is forced to rely more heavily on the fare box for operating revenues than many smaller cities.

Viewing... charts [at the site, copy available from author or this site]..., long suspected conclusions about public transit funding in Illinois and Chicago have been confirmed.

*Source: Michigan Land Use Institute

Prepared June 28, 2004 by Kenneth L. Acoff, Jr.



Payne, of the Gray Line coalition, on CTA lobbying for funds and better options to allocate and coordinate scarce funds. July 3, 2004

While the City and CTA very correctly state that without an increase in operating funding, CTA fares will have to be raised and some services cut; this is well known here and in Springfield.

It is also known that some of the extremely scarce operating funds that the CTA is seeking, will be used to operate in direct competition with parallel Metra services; rather than attempting to coordinate the
services to utilize what funds may be available the most profitably.

Particularly on the Southeast Side of Chicago, where the CTA Red and Green 'L' Lines, and many CTA bus routes (especially the South Lake Shore Drive express routes 2, 6, 10,14, 26, and X28), operate in direct
competition for passengers and operating funds with Metra Electric's parallel and adjacent South Chicago and Kensington in-city suburban train routes; sort of lke pumping air into a tire with a slow leak.

There is a highly recommended Major Capital Project included in the Chicago Area Transportation Studies Shared Path 2030 Program for the future of the NE Illinois Region (CATS RTP Proposal ID # 01-02-9003 - "CTA Gray Line 'L' Route).

In 2003 it was ranked the Most Eligible Project for Funding of all those submitted to CATS Shared Path 2030 by CTAQC (the Chicagoland Transportation and Air Quality Commission - a program of the Center for Neighborhood Technology).
The proposal would integrate and coordinate the parallel SE Side CTA and Metra services at a very low capital implementation cost of $100 million.

It would greatly reduce CTA's SE Side operating budget, reduce air pollution and traffic congestion, and greatly increase ridership; mainly by allowing buses to be used as feeders to the electric rail line,
rather than wasting fuel and manpower, and creating pollution running many buses to operate competing long-haul services.

Metra would make money selling the service to CTA, just as they purchase operation of their commuter train services from the BNSF and UP Railroads; a win-win-win situation for all.

It would also provide a new 37 station 22-mile Regional CTA 'L' Route serving all the SE Lakefront Corridor with it's many attractions, detailed information about the proposal is available at: .

There are many other proposals submitted by citizens, groups, and community organizations to CATS 2030 RTP that should be looked at (rather than just those provided by the transit operators themselves),
as a way of reducing capital and operating costs, and making the best use what funds are available.

Maybe the people in Springfield feel that CTA, RTA, and Metra aren't exploring all the options (for using the very scarce funds that they are seeking - the most efficiently) so why listen to them ask for more.




Superagency appears to be dead for now.

Mike Payne on Gray Line in context of combining all the agencies

More: Visit Gray Line page.

While just about every politician in the State of Illinois is fighting out who ( City / Suburbs / Republicans / Democrats ) will gain the most clout and power over state transportation projects and money, they all seem to be completely ignoring the voice of the people (their constituents).

Many of the projects and proposals highly recommended by CATS and NIPC in their present incarnations (as well as many community organizations speaking for the people), are completely ignored by the RTA, CTA, Metra, Pace, and IDOT; so how could anyone possibly expect some new "merged" agency to do any better job in meeting the actual wants of the populace, rather than delivering the pork for the politicians. One great example is the Center for Neighborhood Technology's proposal to add new stations to the Green Line (CATS 2030 RTP Proposal ID # 01-02-9014 - which was created in response to a year-long series of "Connecting Communities" meetings in 2002 to hear and define the wants
and needs of Chicago area residents); however this proposal is placed way below the central area "Circle Line" on CTA's priority list, yet NO members of the public asked for a "Circle Line" before it was announced.

The City of Chicago also managed to find $200 million itself to build ONE apparently very posh CTA "L" station under Block 37.

Metra is pushing it's $1.2 Billion 55 mile STAR Line to stimulate great economic development in many of the suburban areas it serves (some of which have some of the highest per-capita incomes in the region), however it all but ignores it's in-city Chicago South Side services.

And like CNT's Additional Green Line Station proposal (specifically asked for by the public), the CTA Gray Line proposal (CATS 2030 RTP Proposal ID # 01-02-9003 - to create a new regional 22 mile 37 station CTA "L" Line utilizing the in-city Metra Electric District's suburban train routes) - is being completely ignored in the bloody power-and-funding-seeking feeding-frenzy (although it was the project MOST asked for by the public).

The $100 Million cost of implementing the Gray Line, is but a fraction of $1.2 billion cost of Metra's STAR Line (which would cost $1.3 billion instead of $1.2 billion with the Gray Line added on - not that big a change); and yet no one seems to be interested in seeking funding for it (and the tremendous economic development it would bring to the many diverse parts of Chicago's SE side - wealthy, middle class, and disadvantaged).

On Wednesday April 28th and Thursday April 29th, from 11am to 2pm, Versionfest>04 is hosting their Nfo Xpo Festival at Chicago's Cultural Center on Randolph & Michigan (info: ). It will include presenters on many diverse topics in a science-fair type format.

The Gray Line proposal has been invited to present a display, and to distribute promotional literature.

With the location and time of day, I am sure the Festival will attract many visitors (especially at lunch time), and many will get to learn about the Gray Line proposal. I hope to gain a lot of public support (I am attempting to start a CTA
Gray Line Coalition) and media publicity for the project.

Please come and visit the Festival if you have the opportunity, I would enjoy meeting you.

Thanks for your time,

Mike Payne





2030 Regional Transportation Plan: about, considerations, general recommendations- more in our 2030SharedPath page.

September 7 Chicago Area Transportation Study holds its annual open house, with oinfo on the Regional Transportation Plan and short-term projects including bike and ped, rideshare. 300 W. Adams, 2nd Fl. 3-7 pm.

A wide range of official and public participants partook in well-advertized development of the Plan, although many still found public involvement insufficient or in many cases ignored.

Common themes heard in comment:

Intent, Scope, constraints


Here is the draft pick for SharedPath2030 Major Capital Projects:

Each category is subdivided in the following way. The start of a type of transit is represented by a letter:

A Chicago Transit Hub
B Improvement/extension to existing rapid transit
C Improvement/extension to existing commuter rail
D Existing major highways

E Expanding system to manage growth and change- bus rapid transit or for new employment centers
F New rail transportation corridors
G New highway corridors

There are three tiers:

1) Committed: Projects well along in planning and funded
2) System: Quicker turnaround

3) Project: More ready
4 ) Corridor: Those in early planning or lacking concensus/has competing solutions.

In the first category:

In the second category:

In the third:

In the fourth:

Note: Planners are now leaning toward using a rail rather than Bishop Ford right-of-way for the Red Line extension, citing benefits to communities and development.


Transit projects nearby approved in the federal transit bill for the 1st District (Rush) include 63rd Street (1.6M), Cottage Grove-71st-South Chicago (.8M), skybridge over 57th St. for DuSable Museum (.8M). Total $13M.

What's in it for the Southeast Corridor? Almost all the gains for us would be in better connections and service at a distance, for example in and around the central hub including (among those given the highest grades) Circle Line and more stations on the Green Line. Also, new intermediate distance service and transfer hubs, and new or express service to and beyond O'Hare/Northwest suburbs and Midway.

The principal recommendation for southeast would be improvements for Metra Electric (in the privileged 2nd or "quick turnaround" tier) with connection at the south to various "Southeast Service" proposal giving service to I-80 Illiana suburbs and a future Peotone airport. Go to Needs and News for links to descriptions of Gray Line (the place-holder recommendation) and SECRET. The south-extension part is really in a "study corridor" with several alternate proposals.

The plan description of proposed Metra Electric improvements and extension: (pp. 142-143)

"The initial proposal is to upgrade infrastructure and service levels. The proposal includes relocation of the present facilities at 18th Street and Welden Yard that currently service Metra Electric trains during the daytime layover. The present facility has long been overcrowded and outmoded, so an entirely new facility suitable for present needs and potential expansion will be required. The proposal also includes consideration of alternative urban rail service levels. Improved local community access, increased frequencies and off-peak service, as well as service and fare coordination with other transit services are expected to increase demand and better serve local needs.

"Increased accessibility of this line from downtown Chicago to South Chicago and Blue Island is expected to reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality as well as promote local neighborhood economic development.

"The proposal also includes an 8-mile extension of Metra Electric District Line between University Park and the proposed South Suburban Airport. This improvement is expected to provide transit access to jobs at and near the airport, plus express passenger transport to and from downtown Chicago and intermediate locations.

"A possible inter-city rail service to Kankakee has been proposed for this line and is under study by Kankakee's Metropolitan Planning Organization.

"Extending this line has moderate natural resource impact potential due to its location in agricultural areas in south Cook and northeast Will counties."


RTA has endorsed the Metra Star Line option, which will go from the Blue Line end at O'Hare northwest to Hoffman Estates, thence south to Joliet. Metra is also pushing a route going through south-southwest suburbs, in response to criticism that heavily minority suburbs are being neglected.


Other general news: Federal funding

Federal funding bill was not as good for Illinois and transit as hoped but could have been far worse.


A new resource booklet from NCBG/Campaign for Better Transit: "The Weary Taveler: A Citizen's Guide to Federal Funding for Mass Transit." Includes contacts for our state and federal legislators, committees and timetables, the agendas of various agencies and advocates, the "goods" provided by public transit, and a glossary through the transportation jargon. 312 939-9178.


Why Federal Transportation Legislation Matters (from Campaign for Better Transit)

Every six years Congress passes legislation setting policy and fundibng levels for federal transportation projects. These projects include both highways and mass transit. These projects are funded chiefly by a federal tax on gasoline. You pay 18.4 cents tax for every gallon of gas you buy. Of this money, approximately 80% is used to fund highway projectw and about 20% is used to fund public transportation.

Federal money of this type is very important to Chicago. 80% of the cost of the recent reconstruction of the CTA's Green and Blue line was paid for by federal dollasrs. The current renovation of Metra stations along the South Chicago Branch are mainly funded by the U.S. Government.

The current transportation legislation expires in September and it must be reauthorized. This matter is currently being debated in Washington and the highway lobby is working hard to increase its share of federal dollars at the expense of mass transit prjects. The current bill being considered would eliminate Amtrack, reduce the federal share for new rail projects, slash funding for programs that help low-income familiies pay for transportation costs to their jobs, and eliminate transit enhancement programs.

The Campaign for Better Transit asks all those concerned about public transportation to write their Congressmen and Senators asking them to fight to ensure adequate funding for public transportation remains a priority in the new federal transportation bill.



Read about the 2030 Regional Transportation Plan (or visit the CATS 2030 site)

Contact Chicago Area Transportation Study for meeting dates and information on the important 2030 Regional Transportation Plan.

CATS has move in with the Northeast Illinois Planning Commission per legislative direction in 2005. 233 S. Wacker Drive, Suite 800, Chicago, IL 60606. 312 454-0400. Fax 312 386-8840. Direct number posted on website.



To search transportation management and assests in the region: Transprtation Asset Management System (RTAMS): (You must register to use this site.)

The Traffic Atlas: Where and when you'll encounter it along the various expressways and arterials. Go to the CATS site for this GIS-generated atlas and much more material on-line.

CATS holds a whole suite of task force meetings on topics that feed into production of Regional Transportation Plans. Contact or Work on the 2030 plan is in progress now, and seeks to go beyond addressing the usual mobility and capacity demands.

Soles and Spokes, a coalition under the Chicago Area Transportation Study, is holding meetings and design workshops on developing bike and pedestrian friendly communities, including our own. (Cottage Grove has just been striped for bikes. Let us know how this works out, whether you are a bike rider, CTA rider, or motorist.) More in bike plans and news.

Soles and Spokes Task Force meets from time to time at CATS headquarters, 300 W. Adams, 2nd Floor. Visit and To take an on-line survey on what you want to see in trails and their amenities, visit Contact: Tom Murtha.

PACE and CTA have both seen huge increases in use of the bus bike racks in the past year. They're on nearly every bus. METRA is only accommodating bikes on Burlington and UP Northwest lines, certain times.

Visit South Lakefront Access Study page for report, update on projects.


News and views from policy and advocacy groups

Campaign for Better Transit/Neighborhood Capital Budget Group

The websites of these groups have much related to transit planning and needs. CBT has an explanatory booklet, originally for legislators and planners, that is available: "The Weary Traveller."

CNT/CTAQC: "Changing Direction: Transportation Choices for 2030
Report Presents Public's Vision of Transportation in 2030"--an alternative from Center for Neighborhood Technology to CATS (Chicago Area Transportation Study)'s Shared Path 2030.

During the past eighteen months, the Chicagoland Transportation and Air Quality Commission (CTAQC) held summits across the northeastern Illinois region to facilitate public involvement in transportation planning. The results of this process was that the residents of northeast Illinois want choice in their transportation modes, voice in the decision making process, and change in the way their taxpayer dollars are being invested in transportation projects that they did not want. To see Changing Direction: Transportation Choices for 2030, the report that synthesizes these results, and find out about the forums and symposia these groups hold regularly, visit: General site is

Business Leaders for Transportation, a coalition of Metropolitan Planning Council, Chicago Metropolis 2020, and Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, is trying to get the Illinois Congressional delegation behind an agenda for the federal highway and transit program renewal, up this September. Send for their pamphlet, Getting the Chicago Region Moving, to learn what they are seeking. They ask input. Main recommendations are:

They also propose reforms and funding for highway, freight, intercity passenger rail and note that in the Midwest, Illinois received the least increased funding from TEA-21 and has the worst increasing highway congestion.

From Center for Neighborhood Technology, March, 2003

Is Fast, Frequent and Safe Rail Service Possible? This was the subject of the Midwest High Speed Rail Coalition Conference March, 2003. Scott Bernstein, co-director of Reconnecting America and President of CNT, said that the United States is the only industrialized country in the world that has not pursued an integrated approach to transportation policy. Experts with Reconnecting America say that citizens are paying the cost in strategic and financial insecurity, pollution, sprawl, and an over-reliance on air travel.
Also: Anthony Perl, author of "New Departures: Rethinking Rail Passenger Policy in the Twenty-First Century."

To learn more, check out a report from Reconnecting America entitled "Missed Connections: Finding Solutions to the Crisis in Air Travel." This report outlines the crisis in intercity travel in the aftermath of
September 11, and the opportunity to identify and advocate for the adoption of a new transportation policy. View the report at