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Why this is important

Capital needs for Chicago's transit system, the money required to maintain and invest in new infrastructure such as vehicles and stations, are significant. While recent federal infrastructure investments are critical to meeting the capital needs of the region, additional sustainable funding is needed to address decades of underinvestment and respond to changing post-COVID rider needs. Historically, roadway agencies have received significantly more money for transportation projects than transit agencies, but the economic, equity, and climate benefits of transit suggest that a change should occur to how funding is allocated.

The Service Boards demonstrate, on an annual basis, the great need for additional capital infusions. The region’s 2023 capital program identifies 76 Priority Projects for the next 10 years with a total cost of $36.6 billion. The 2023–2027 5-year capital program only funds 15.6% of this total 10-year need, with only nine of the projects fully funded. Important projects to maintain and transform the regional transportation system are delayed as the Service Boards work to put funding strategies together to advance key projects like the Red and Purple Modernization project, Red Line Extension, Metra bridge replacement, and CTA and Pace bus electrification efforts.


Understanding capital vs. operating funding and why it matters

February 2, 2023

RTA to measure capital projects on equity, climate impacts, and more

February 2, 2023

Project Management Oversight report highlights more than $7 billion in ongoing transit investments

March 8, 2023

RTA launches performance measures dashboards to track progress on strategic plan outcomes

October 4, 2023

How Chicago transit agencies are using historic capital funding for critical projects

October 19, 2023

RTA releases semi-annual project management oversight report highlighting more than 100 capital projects

January 3, 2024

Chicago's transit system is winning competitive grants and advancing critical projects

March 12, 2024


Annual investment needed to maintain Chicago’s transit system over the next 10 years

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Input from stakeholder working groups

Stakeholder working groups recognized the need to invest in keeping the system in a state of good repair, while distributing funds equitably and taking steps to modernize and improve the user experience. To that end, transit should receive an increased share of total transportation funding; additionally, highway congestion reduction programs should be broadened to include transit whenever possible. Grant programs should be structured to enable smaller and under-resourced communities to tap into available funds and ensure that we equitably balance the needs of different markets and communities. Additionally, legislation should be advanced to require transit infrastructure be provided by employment centers and that transit value-capture mechanisms be distributed equitably.

Advocacy work ahead

RTA will work with the Service Boards to continue to update the regional Priority Project list to communicate to stakeholders and the public the acute need for sustained capital investment to both maintain and improve the system. RTA will also conduct a specialized analysis of the regional capital program to show the impacts of Rebuild Illinois funds and other funding sources to elected officials and others who have made this funding possible.

Engage with communities
Partner with roadway agencies