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RTA Recommends Combining Planning Departments For CTA, Metra, Pace

By Chuck Sudo in News on Sep 3, 2013 9:20PM

2011_10_24_RTA.jpg The Regional Transportation Authority, which oversees Chicago Transit Authority, Metra and Pace, recommended consolidating the planning departments for each agency into a single body.

The Sun-Times has the details.

These planners often operate in silos that result in inefficiencies, including lack of communication and competition for funds, all of which diminish the shared goal of optimal regional accessibility,” RTA chairman John Gates wrote in a memo dated Sept. 3. The memo, obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times, was to his own board and to the heads of the city and surrounding counties. He estimated that the combined 100 planners of the RTA, Chicago Transit Authority, Metra, Pace and the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning cost the region up to $20 million.

Gates cited planning snafus such as “overpriced joint” fares when the CTA began reconstructing the Red Line without considering Pace riders who use the 95th Street station or parallel Metra service in asking the General Assembly to legislate the consolidation under the RTA, CMAP or one of the other agencies."

Gates comments carry a greater weight as Metra attempts to sort out its current mess started by the resignation and $871,000 buyout of former CEO Alex Clifford’s contract and the resignation of five members of its board. CTA is facing criticism over the rollout of the shared fare system, Ventra, and the resignation of Frank Zuccarelli as Gov. Pat Quinn’s appointed suburban member of CTA’s board after reports of Zuccarelli’s political double-dipping surfaced.

Gates’ comments also come as Quinn meets with the Northeastern Illinois Public Transit Task Force. The group, chaired by former U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, was formed by Quinn to look at reforming public transit in the area.

“It’s clear that the mass transit system in northeastern Illinois is not working for taxpayers,” Quinn said last month. “This task force is a step forward to make our transit system worthy of the public’s trust. Their recommendations will be valuable as we work in both the veto and spring sessions to reform mass transit in northeastern Illinois.”