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After a six-month season of listening and engaging different audiences about the challenges and opportunities facing the future of public transit, the RTA has published An Emerging Vision for the Chicago Region’s Transit System. 

The agency is seeking feedback on this vision and accepting comments through March 11, 2022. The RTA wants to hear your thoughts about the vision, principles, and outcomes outlined to ensure they accurately reflect what we’ve heard before moving forward to the next phase of plan development. 

 Emerging vision: Safe, reliable, accessible public transportation that connects people to opportunity, empowers equity, and combats climate change. 

 The emerging vision is the result of months of engagement called “Making a Plan,” which included a guest blog series from transit thinkers around the region, a public forum held with the University of Illinois-Chicago, guest speakers at RTA Board of Directors meetings, stakeholder workshops, and a public survey that received more than 1,000 responses. 

Read more about what we heard during Making a Plan in a board memo or watch a presentation to the Board of Directors from February 17. 

Public survey shows desire for transit to be more flexible, reliable
A public survey conducted during the Making a Plan engagement period showed respondents desires for a more flexible, reliable transit system, which helped inform the plan’s emerging vision. 

The RTA  Strategic Plan Public Survey was open from November 11, 2021, to February 4, 2022. More than 1,000 people took the survey, with the vast majority identifying as general public or transit riders and others identifying as government or transit agency employees in the region.  

The survey asked respondents to describe their vision for the future of the region’s transit system in three words. Below is a word cloud of responses, the size of the word corresponds to how frequently respondents used the word. Most common responses included reliable, accessible, and safe.

Public transit is at a critical moment. Uncertainties brought on by the pandemic, longstanding financial challenges, and overarching regional issues like equity and climate change present both challenges and potential pivot points for the system. The Strategic Plan is an opportunity to reinvigorate and focus discussion on how transit can adapt to meet the changing needs of communities throughout the region.

When asked which changes to the transit system the RTA should prioritize in the future, the most common survey response was “Creating a more flexible transit system that better serves destinations outside of downtown Chicago and hours outside of the traditional AM/PM commutes.”

The RTA has distributed $3.4 billion in federal relief funds to CTA, Metra, and Pace to keep transit running during the pandemic. Those funds will sustain transit through much of 2025, but difficult financial decisions are ahead. A majority of respondents to the public survey (86 percent) expressed a desire to find new funding sources rather than cut service in order live within austere budgets in the future.

The feedback already received through the survey and a number of workshops have been used to develop the emerging vision, principles, and outcomes. Don’t forget to read An Emerging Vision for the Chicago Region’s Transit System and provide comment by March 11, 2022.

 

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Read posts about how the RTA collaborates with CTA, Metra and Pace to plan, invest in and move the Chicago region’s transit system.

If you are looking for posts published prior to 2021, please view the Archives.

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