Task force: Eliminate RTA, merge CTA, Pace and Metra

The controversy over political clout at Metra may result in a transformation of how mass transit is run in the Chicago area.
March 31, 2014 2:54:54 PM PDT
The controversy over political clout at Metra may result in a transformation of how mass transit is run in the Chicago area.

Governor Pat Quinn's task force offered its plan for changing the bureaucracy on Monday.

Metra, Pace and CTA each has its own transit agency and operates separately, with its own board. On top of that, the body that oversees its finances, the Regional Transit Authority (RTA), also has its own board.

In all, 48 paid board members serve all four agencies; a system that this task force says is redundant and must go.

''What we are recommending is that the RTA, as it exists today, would no longer exist and the CTA, Metra and Pace would no longer exist as boards,'' said Ann Schneider, IDOT secretary and task force co-chair.

In a 95-page report, the Northeastern Illinois Public Transit Task Force is calling for one big agency with one board to oversee Metra, Pace and CTA.

Each transit agency would have its own operating units that would be responsible for the day-to-day operations. The idea is to consolidate and coordinate transportation in the city and suburbs.

''What we are recommending is the scheduling, fares and fare collection system. These types of things can be coordinated regionally,'' Schneider said.

The task force was appointed by Gov. Quinn following the Metra board controversy. Last summer, Metra CEO Alex Clifford said he was forced out by the Metra board for resisting political pressure when hiring and awarding contracts.

Ethics is a big part of the task force report and recommendations include background checks for board members and eliminating salaries for anyone who serves on transit boards.

Carole Brown, a task force member who served on CTA and RTA boards, said she doesn't think cutting compensation will deter quality board members.

''I do believe people who serve genuinely, serve because they want to, give back and contribute,'' Brown said.

While Brown and the entire task force approved the report, Brown does not support every word of it. Brown said she is not 100 percent on board of the idea of one big board, especially when it comes to the CTA.

Monday's recommendations will only become a reality if the governor and the Illinois General Assembly take action.


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