The Pace board of directors formally adopted the agency's 2013 budget at its November meeting following 13 regional public hearings and several presentations to county boards and other bodies. The budget is balanced without fare increases or service reductions.
"We're grateful to the many people who provided feedback on our budget and operations through our public input process," said Pace Chairman Richard Kwasneski. "We strive to be as inclusive as possible and believe as a result of this process that our budget is fiscally responsible and responds to the needs of our stakeholders."
The Suburban Services operating budget totals nearly $207.8 million and includes funding for some planned expansion of service on I-90, I-55 Bus on Shoulders service, and restructuring of service in the Waukegan and Aurora areas. A $27 surcharge will be imposed on vanpool riders if their van originates or terminates in Indiana to cover the cost of tolls on Indiana tollways and the Skyway effective January 1. Pace is exempt from paying tolls on in-service vehicles — which includes vanpools — within Illinois, however this exemption does not extend to Indiana or the Skyway. Impacted vanpools have the option of returning their Pace-provided toll transponder to avoid the surcharge.
The budgeted regional ADA paratransit expenses total just less than $148.8 million for 2013 and allows for ridership growth of 5.9%. Pace continues its work to implement a regional coordinated dispatch system and other measures that will continue to maximize efficiency and reduce per-trip costs.
Pace's 2013 capital program totals $109.2 million and features the purchase of new buses, suburban paratransit vehicles and vanpool vans. Other highlights include investment in improving passenger facilities and the Ventra fare system that goes online in 2013 in collaboration with Chicago Transit Authority (CTA).
The final Pace budget will be submitted to the Chicago Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) for review and approval by the RTA board of directors in the regional budget, along with the budgets of CTA and Metra. The RTA board is scheduled to approve the regional budget in December to complete the annual budget process.