Take a steadily improving economy, add in more unemployed people finding work, and what you get is higher funding for the CTA and other area mass transit agencies.
And that also means less interagency fighting over previously scarce RTA funding dollars, according to a Sun-Times report last week:
Regional Transportation Authority officials said they expected regional sales tax revenues to grow 4 percent next year as they proposed doling out a 5.2 percent increase in 2015 operating funds to the CTA, Metra and Pace.
With former State Sen. Kirk Dillard presiding over his first meeting as RTA chair, Wednesday’s session showed few signs of the behind-the-scenes bickering by transit agencies over their proposed RTA funding, or “marks,’’ that have become typical this time of year.
The increased tax revenue will help offset the decreased ridership earlier this year due to the bitterly cold winter. The RTA is reporting that year-to-date ridership is down more than 3 percent due to the cold.
The Sun-Times article also note that the RTA proposed increasing funding for the CTA’s 2015 operating budget by 5.6 percent, to $739.8 million:
Those operating amounts include the biggest issue of annual dissent: discretionary funds. The 2015 pot of $200 million in discretionary funds would be split 96 percent to CTA, 2 percent to Metra and 2 percent to Pace.
Last year, the CTA got 98 percent of about $178 million in discretionary money; Pace got 2 percent; and Metra got money from another pot for capital projects.
With that kind of budget increase, I suppose the CTA doesn't have to demand 98 percent of the discretionary funds this year.
Of course, this is all a bit preliminary, as the CTA is still determining its actual budget for next year. Maybe we'll even see it this year before November?
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