The board at Chicagoland’s Pace approved an ordinance adopting the 2023 Operating Budget and 2024-2025 Two-Year Financial Plan for Suburban Service and Regional ADA Paratransit Service, the 2023-2027 Five-Year Capital Program, and the 2023 appropriation of funds in accordance with the Operating Budget and Capital Program.
The ordinance also authorizes the Operating Budget and Capital Program to be submitted to the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) for approval.
The approved 2023 budget contains several fare policy changes that make it less expensive to ride Pace and more seamless to transfer to and from CTA and Metra services. Pace also eliminated the cost of transferring between regular routes.
Pace held eight public hearings about their proposed 2023 budget. Many of the public comments received centered around the proposed discontinuation of routes suspended in 2020, and the board vote removes uncertainty about those routes’ status by formally eliminating them.
Ridership reports show Pace services bouncing back with 70,000 daily trips on the system for the first time since the pandemic began. However, the Metra service that was supported by many of the discontinued routes has not seen the same resurgence. In her report, Pace Executive Director Melinda Metzger noted that, “we received dozens of comments from parties who want us to reinstate services that have been suspended for more than two years. It’s a good thing when people want more public services to be available to them. While the demand for the services that we plan to eliminate as part of this budget vote does not warrant the reinstatement of these routes at this time, it is also good news that we have some flexible, low-cost options to offer these communities.”
Pace continues to invest in recruitment efforts to address challenges posed by the nationwide operator shortage, which is also a driving factor in the agency’s ability to reinstate services. Pace reviewed and presented all comments received from the public to the board and will include them, along with other requests for service changes and additions, as part of the agency’s systemwide network revitalization initiative that will kick off next year.
Another notable approval by the Pace board was the award of a contract to John Burns Construction Co. for construction services for the Northwest Transportation Center ADA Paratransit transfer facility. As part of Rebuild Illinois, Pace has received funding for that ADA Paratransit transfer facility, along with another one slated to be built in Calumet City, both of which will offer an indoor bus waiting area, public and operator restrooms, and additional parking.