RTA Board Meeting Highlights: February 21, 2019

( Published: )

Regional Transit Strategic Plan Update and Peer Performance Report Featured

 

CHICAGO – The Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) Board of Directors Meeting today included two updates related to the status of the region’s transit system, indicating that a stable, reliable state capital infrastructure program is gravely needed to make strategic improvements for the future.  

 

Peer Performance Reports

RTA staff first provided an update on the Peer Reviews, released each year to compare CTA, Metra and Pace performance to that of public transportation in similar metropolitan regions around the country.

 

The 2017 Regional Peer Review evaluates performance among the top ten largest metropolitan regions in the U.S., with Chicago being the third largest. The 2017 Sub-Regional Peer Review examines how each of the Service Boards’ modes of transportation (bus, heavy rail, commuter rail and ADA Paratransit) performs against five similar peer agencies.

 

Both reports use data from 2017, the most recent figures, submitted to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to ensure consistency and comparability. In these most recent 2017 reports, the Chicago region is a strong performer, ranking in the top half for 14 out of 16 performance measures and in the top three out of nine of them. Compared to its peer regions, Chicago placed in the top four for each measure of coverage.  That said, the region’s Capital Expenditures Per Resident is in the lower half of the peer group and Capital Expenditures overall are significantly less than New York and Los Angeles.

 

In the Sub-Regional report, each Service Board ranked in the top half of its peer groups for 14 of the 16 measures reviewed and in the top three for nine of those measures. The reports show that the region’s system continues to perform well for measures relating to service coverage, efficiency and effectiveness.   In addition, there are agency-specific observations:

 

CTA

  • For the ninth consecutive year, CTA bus retained its top-ranked performance for operating cost per vehicle revenue hour.
  • The average CTA bus was 7.9 years old, the second-youngest average fleet age among its peers.
  • CTA performed well in service efficiency and effectiveness measures, ranking first for operating cost per vehicle revenue hour (for the ninth consecutive year) and second for operating cost per passenger mile. 

Metra

  • Metra retained its second-place ranking for operating cost per passenger trip for the seventh consecutive year.
  • Metra has consistently performed better than the peer average for measures of service coverage, ranking first for passenger trips per vehicle revenue hour and second for passenger trips per vehicle revenue mile, a measure of productivity.

Pace

  • Pace performed better than the peer average for two measures related to cost, ranking second for operating cost per passenger mile.   
  • Pace added 114 new buses into its active vehicle fleet in 2017, and maintained its top ranking for average fleet age. 
  • Pace ADA Paratransit continued to rank well among its peers, meeting or beating the peer average for eight of ten performance metrics.

 

The RTA gains useful insights from the peer reports that inform both tactical decision for the agencies as well as strategic direction for the RTA.

 

Regional Transit Strategic Plan Update

RTA staff then provided an annual report to the Board on progress toward Invest in Transit, the 2018-2023 Regional Transit Strategic Plan adopted by the RTA Board in January 2018.  Invest in Transit makes the region’s case for pursuing stable and dedicated funding streams that will enable the Transit Agencies to provide vital public transit into the future.  The accompanying document, Invest in Transit Priority Projects, outlines and describes specific capital priorities for CTA, Metra, and Pace that are currently unfunded.   

 

During the February 2019 Board meeting, staff presented on progress made toward the vision and goals of the plan over the last year since the plan was adopted. Highlights include:

  • The Transit Agencies have spent the year advocating for more capital funding, but a state capital bill has not passed, leaving the region’s transit needs substantially underfunded.  As a result, little progress has been made toward the Invest in Transit Priority Projects and the transit infrastructure continues to age.
  • The vision and goals set forth in the plan remain prescient as new commercial and residential projects near transit assets in Chicago and surrounding suburbs are poised to leverage the existing transit system and to bring economic development near transit stations.  
  • The mobility environment remains competitive, so the Transit Agencies piloted new operating models and worked to better understand travel preferences in order to embrace Transit’s role as a part of a larger mobility ecosystem.

 

In 2019, the Agencies will continue to advocate for capital funding and transit-friendly policies throughout the region. The Annual Report and related documents are available on the RTA website.