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Why this is important

With more resources and a funding structure less reliant on fares, the Service Boards could focus on enhancing service and providing transit coverage across the region which broadens access to areas that have been historically underserved. This would also allow the region to innovate with different fare levels and models, such as seamless transfers or free or reduced rides for residents experiencing low incomes. Developing a structure focused on expanding access to opportunity is critical to realizing the vision of safe, reliable, accessible public transportation that connects people to opportunity, advances equity, and combats climate change.


Fare Recovery Ratio: What it is and why it must be reformed

January 5, 2023

New fare products for CTA, Metra, and Pace make transferring between agencies easy and affordable

March 3, 2023

RTA begins exploring reduced fares for riders with low incomes

May 4, 2023

First Transit is the Answer Coalition meeting tackles reduced fare and ride free program expansion

May 10, 2023

Legislative Update: Lawmakers take important steps to make transit system less reliant on fares

June 1, 2023

Access Pilot Program by RTA, Metra, and Cook County launched

January 16, 2024

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Input from stakeholder working groups

Stakeholder working groups articulated a clear need to develop an equity-based funding structure to allow the Service Boards to enhance transit affordability while lowering reliance on fares to balance operating budgets. Specific discussion topics included seeking greater RTA autonomy in the distribution of capital and operating funds; studying and piloting programs to eliminate fares as a barrier for access; and working with social services to better understand riders’ unmet mobility needs.

Advocacy work ahead

No single revenue source will close transit's budget gap on its own. RTA is working with partners and local, state, and federal officials to explore a range of options for new revenue while implementing a strategic plan focused on building a safer, more reliable, and more accessible system. State leaders can begin to address the gap by fully funding existing programs for vulnerable riders, including paratransit service and free and reduced fare programs.

Secure increased funding
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