January 27, 2021

As our state and nation continue responding to the pandemic, public transit remains an essential service, responsible for transporting health care employees, emergency responders, and retail workers to jobs throughout the region. The RTA remains committed to keeping elected officials and stakeholders up to date about COVID-19 impacts on transit and the region’s response. Please feel free to encourage others to subscribe.

RTA Board discusses process for allocating new federal relief funds

Despite the pandemic, our regional transit system is providing 500,000 trips every weekday. The second federal COVID relief package includes about $486.2 million for transit in the greater Chicago urbanized area, which nearly closes the anticipated 2021 gap of $500 million. And yet, as this regional recovery moves forward, the transit system will need additional revenue in order to continue providing critical service.

At its January 21 meeting, the RTA Board saw in-depth presentations about how the regional COVID response will continue to unfold in coming months. The agency's three-step recovery strategy has entered its second phase, which depends on detailed analysis for allocating new federal relief funds to sustain critical transit services during the pandemic.

Read more in a new RTA blog post. The agency website also has video and presentation materials from the meeting, including a staff memo on Step 2 of the recovery process. Streetsblog Chicago posted a detailed recap of the staff presentation at the January Board meeting.

To facilitate distribution of these federal funds, the RTA is working with CTA, Metra, and Pace to carefully identify Critical Need Areas by analyzing factors such as: 
  • Who is most likely to use transit? 
  • Who is most likely to need transit from an equity perspective? 
  • Which industries are most likely to need transit? 

Step 2 is intended to ensure mobility for those who most need public transportation at this time, including bus riders, essential workers, residents with economic hardships across the region, and people with disabilities. Starting in May, Step 3 will take a long-term strategic planning approach.

This process will continue in the virtual RTA Board meeting at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, February 18. We encourage all interested parties to monitor these activities at and provide public comments, which are due by noon on the day before any Board meeting. 

Buttigieg U.S. DOT confirmation anticipated

The RTA is closely tracking discussions in DC as the new administration's approach comes into focus, including the anticipated Senate confirmation of Pete Buttigieg as head of the U.S. Department of Transportation. At his confirmation hearing on January 21, Buttigieg spoke of "a generational opportunity to transform and improve America’s infrastructure.” See coverage by the Washington Post, NPR, and PBS News Hour. Buttigieg offered some insights in a January 23 discussion with the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

Revamped RTAMS website offers data resources

Last week the RTA launched a revamped RTAMS (Regional Transportation Authority Mapping and Statistics), a collection of tools for accessing extensive data resources about the six-county metropolitan Chicago region’s transit system. Among its many resources are data sets that drive the RTA COVID Transit dashboard


RTA COVID-related projects offer engagement opportunities 

Multiple current RTA projects related to COVID recovery and essential services offer opportunities for public engagement
Thank you,

Leanne Redden
RTA Executive Director
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All rights reserved.

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