March 19, 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. Visit the RTA COVID Recovery web page for more information, and please encourage others to subscribe.

RTA Board approves COVID relief allocations

At its meeting yesterday, the RTA Board approved the process for allocating funds from the second federal COVID relief bill, which passed in late December 2020. See a staff memo describing these allocations and a Sustaining Critical Transit in 2021 report, which now includes an appendix of public comments received from February 18 to March 5. A YouTube video of the full Board meeting is also available.
Prior to passage of the second bill — known as the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA) — our region’s transit system was facing a potential 2021 operations gap of $500 million, which initially prompted the RTA to develop the Sustaining Critical Transit report to identify transit Critical Need Areas (CNAs). While that projected shortfall is being averted thanks to $486.2 million from CRRSAA and $106.9 million from better-than-forecasted sales tax revenues, this process remains invaluable for ensuring that transit during the pandemic continues to serve those who need it most.
The RTA Board approved CRRSAA allocations as follows. Note that PTF is the state Public Transportation Fund, and RETT is the Real Estate Transfer Tax.

An interactive RTA Story Map sheds further light on how CNAs were identified. Staff will now proceed with implementing Step 2 of our regional transit system's three-step COVID recovery strategy. Beginning in May, Step 3 will initiate longer-term strategic planning through 2023 and beyond.

Third relief package has $30.5 billion for transit

Transit systems nationwide will benefit significantly from the latest COVID relief bill enacted on Thursday, March 11. As described in a press release from the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), the American Rescue Plan Act has $30.5 billion in emergency relief so "all public transit agencies can continue to be a lifeline for our essential workers and help communities rebuild from the economic devastation caused by the pandemic." Stay tuned for more details about its impact in our region, which could receive approximately $1.5 billion for transit. Read more in the New York Times, and see an article on "The Future of Public Transit" by Roads and Bridges magazine.

Safe Return to Work event

On March 11, Metra and the Building Owners and Managers Association of Chicago (BOMA/Chicago) conducted the Safe Return to Work Summit. More than 1,000 attendees — both in person and online — discussed "how to safely bring employees back to the workplace and reignite the economy." Here is a Metra recap with full video of the event. Also see a press release about Transit Driver Appreciation Day, which on March 18 recognized the vital efforts of Metra, CTA, and Pace staff.

Section 5310 call for projects

The RTA is the designated recipient of federal funds through Section 5310: The Enhanced Mobility of Seniors and Individuals with Disabilities Program, which aims to improve mobility for seniors and individuals with disabilities by removing barriers to transportation service and expanding mobility options. Every two years, the RTA solicits proposals to distribute these funds in the Chicago region. The 2021 Call for Projects, which is tied to approximately $9.5 million in federal funding, will accept applications from Monday, March 22 through Thursday, April 22. Application materials will be available next week at the Section 5310 web page.

RTA Community Planning public comment period

Starting March 17 through April 2, the RTA is seeking public comments on recommended projects for the 2021 Community Planning program. Email comments to The final Community Planning program of projects will be announced April 15 at the RTA Board of Directors meeting.


COVID Transit Dashboard

The RTA COVID Transit Dashboard ( has been updated with the latest available data on ridership through March 5. Also see the new and improved RTAMS (, which has the raw data that drives our dashboard and many other RTA data tools.

Thank you,

Leanne Redden
RTA Executive Director
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