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Illinois gov. makes deal to stop paratransit fare hikes

Posted on November 17, 2009

Last week, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn announced an agreement with the Chicago region’s major transit agencies that will prevent fare increases for the Chicago Transit Authority and Pace paratransit services in 2010 and 2011. The agreement was made between the State of Illinois, the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA), Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), Metra and Pace.

“Access to affordable and reliable public transportation is imperative for Chicago-area transit riders,” said Gov. Quinn. “Today’s comprehensive agreement will stabilize public transit and will hold the line against any CTA fare increases for the next two years.”

Under the agreement, the RTA will issue bonds for capital projects in 2010 and 2011, allowing federal dollars earmarked for capital projects to be shifted to CTA’s operational budget that will help the agency deal with its financial shortfall.

The RTA will issue general obligation bonds to provide the CTA with $83 million in each 2010 and in 2011 for capital projects. The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) will enter into a multi-year agreement with the RTA to cover the cost of debt service for the first two years of the bonds. Any subsequent debt service assistance will be evaluated on an annual basis. In return, the CTA has agreed to cancel proposed fare hikes for 2010 and 2011.

In addition to freezing CTA and paratransit fare increases for the next two years, the state is also in conversations with CTA aimed at decreasing the number of anticipated service reductions, ensuring that riders will continue to have reliable public transportation options.

Pace will also receive additional funding from IDOT to hold the line on paratransit fare increases. Pace will receive $8.5 million a year in 2010 and 2011 for these services.

The State of Illinois will continue to work collaboratively with the agencies to identify long-term solutions.

“We will continue to work closely with the RTA, CTA, Metra and Pace to make sure that we can provide affordable and reliable public transportation for the Chicago-area,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Gary Hannig.

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