Illinois lawmakers unveil plan to combine Metra, CTA and Pace into one

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Monday, April 29, 2024
Illinois lawmakers unveil plan to combine Metra, CTA and Pace into one
Illinois lawmakers unveiled the Metropolitan Mobility Act, a plan to combine Metra, CTA and Pace into one; the RTA would also be replaced.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Illinois lawmakers have unveiled a plan to combine the region's three main transit agencies into one.

The plan would merge Metra, CTA and Pace.

Sometimes Northwest Side resident W. Robert Schultz III takes all three modes of transportation.

"I moved to Chicago primarily to live in a community where I wouldn't have to drive," Schultz said.

But Schultz and other riders say, in recent years, service has become unreliable.

"It doesn't matter how long or short across the city that trip may be. It seems to be consistently way longer than it used to be," Schultz said.

Because of an outdated system, combined with a $750 million transit financial fiscal cliff expected next year, two state lawmakers are introducing the Metropolitan Mobility Act. The legislation combines all three transit agencies into one, including replacing the RTA, the fourth government agency that oversee Metra, CTA and Pace.

"The intent behind the consolidation is more about being a more responsive transit agency, to make sure that we're not kind of in our own little silos providing certain services," said state Rep. Eva-Dina Delgado, a Democrat representing the Northwest Side.

Bill co-sponsor Delgado said there would be one overreaching board, with subsections beneath the board.

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Under a modernized consolidated system, riders would not pay multiple fares.

"The idea would be for a rider to be able to get on a bus, get on a train, be able to get somewhere on time, pay one fare, and not have to worry about their safety or comfort," Delgado said.

Chicago's business community likes the idea of four transit agencies no longer competing for funds or duplicating services.

"We cannot just throw more money at the same system, at the same problems, and expect a different result," said Derek Douglas, president of the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago.

The transit agencies are cool to the idea but open to conversations about reform.

In a written statement, RTA Board President Kirk Dillard writes in part, "Reforms must come with the necessary funding to upgrade and maximize transit's impact on the region's economy, climate and access to opportunity for all residents."

The sponsors of the legislation admit an idea so bold faces an uphill battle, but they say now is the time to start the conversation of reforming public transit in the Chicago area.