Comment on performance-based Capital Allocation Structure by July 1

The RTA is accepting public comment on the memo and documents describing its new performance-based Capital Allocation Structure that was presented to the RTA Board of Directors in June 2021.

Email to comment by July 1, 2021..

The RTA Board will consider the new capital allocation process for adoption when it meets on July 15, 2021, and, if approved, it will be used in the upcoming budget process, which will allocate funding for 2025 and 2026. This memo comes as the RTA is moving into Step 3 of its COVID Recovery Strategy, which will include the development of a new five-year strategic plan for the region’s transit system with an outlook of 2023 and beyond. This effort will replace Invest in Transit and provide an opportunity for wide engagement on new and updated policy priorities and goals. The Capital Allocation Structure highlighted in this memo sets the RTA up for a future where capital funding can be performance-based and data-driven, but also flexible and responsive to these regional goals and priorities.

The Capital Allocation Structure is a continuation of the work done on the Framework for Transit Capital Investments in 2020 by RTA staff in partnership with the CTA, Metra, and Pace. Read more about what is new in the Capital Allocation Structure in a blog post.

Why Northeastern Illinois needs a new process for transit capital investments

In 2019, the region’s transit agencies worked together to advocate for passage of Rebuild Illinois, a $45 billion capital bill that became the first passed in Illinois in a decade. The bill would provide the RTA system with $2.6 billion over five years in state bond funding and an estimated $227 million annually in gas tax revenue, which nearly doubles the region’s previous five‐year transit capital program.

While a significant step forward, Rebuild Illinois alone is not enough to close the funding gap in transit capital needs and was passed before the COVID-19 pandemic put additional stress on the transit system’s current and future funding sources. Due to COVID-19’s many unknown impacts, which will likely continue affecting regional finances beyond this fiscal year, having a solid investment framework is even more crucial so the RTA and transit agencies can continue to advocate in a unified manner for funding to support the region’s transit system, no matter what the future holds.

Given the enormity of capital needs and the limitations of funding, Northeastern Illinois requires a transparent, equitable, and data-driven process for allocating capital funds to ensure that public investments meet clear regional goals for the transit system. In December 2019, the RTA Board of Directors passed an ordinance to create a Performance-Based Capital Allocation Process Committee that would develop more rigorous communications and reporting around the capital program, resulting in the draft Framework for Transit Capital Investments.