The Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) Board of Directors adopted the 2012 budget at their monthly board meeting today. A budget of $3.9 billion in operating expenses was approved for the RTA, Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), Metra and Pace.
“The ongoing economic recession has continued to adversely impact our transit funding for the last four years. Revenues generated from the RTA sales tax, our largest source of public funding, has been effected by reduced consumer spending,” said Joseph Costello, RTA executive director. “But despite the ongoing challenges, a fiscally responsible budget has been approved and this is the first time a budget has been approved that did not include the transfer of capital funds to operations, a method in the past that transferred nearly $750 million.” Last week, officials from the three service boards presented to the RTA’s Finance Committee on their 2012 budgets describing fiscal management strategies, priorities and challenges.
The RTA predicts next year’s forecast will offer little gain in sales tax or the Chicago Real Estate Transfer Tax and the recession has impacted the rate at which the State of Illinois has made payments to the RTA and most other state agencies. These delayed funds hinder the ability of the RTA system to meet its financial obligations. The RTA plans to meet next year’s budget with continued cost savings measures, productivity improvements and long overdue Metra fare increases.
The $3.9 billion budget approved by the RTA board will authorize $2.5 billion for operations expenses for the following: the CTA, $1.24 billion; Metra, $686.6 million; Pace, $195 million and ADA paratransit, $126.6 million, and the RTA $35.2 million. Additionally, $1.4 billion was approved for capital expenses of which more than half, or $718 million will be spent on the purchase of new buses and rail cars. The remainder will be spent on other capital projects that will move the system toward a state of good repair.
The RTA Board also adopted a five-year capital program. Capital funding will be used largely for rolling stock renewal and other projects aimed at taking care of the existing system. The transit system still needs significantly more funding for further maintenance, enhancement and expansion. An RTA asset condition evaluation completed last year determined that the system has a 10-year capital need of $24.6 billion to achieve a state of good repair.
The budget process included nearly 30 public hearings throughout the region. To obtain a copy of the transit system’s 2012 budget, visit www.RTAchicago.com.