CTA, Metra and Pace could ride together under separate plans to improve transit governance

State lawmakers are being asked to consider two separate calls to improve the governance and funding of the region’s transit system.

Sun-Times files

For too long, the CTA, Metra and Pace have operated like separate and competing fiefdoms rather than a unified transit agency that can seamlessly serve their combined 326 million passengers a year.

The result of all this has been separate fare collection methods, service boards — each with their own budgets — that don’t communicate well with each other, and transit schedules that make it hard to make timely connections from one system to another.

Throw in the current and well-documented problems lately with the region’s largest transit agency, the CTA, and that all three carriers face a combined $730 million deficit in early 2026 after federal COVID-19 funding ends, and it’s clear it’s time for a different approach.

Luckily, two new proposals seek to bring the change that’s needed. We believe they are both worthy of consideration.



A pair of Chicago Democrats, state Sen. Ram Villivalam, D-Chicago, and state Rep. Eva-Dina Delgado, D-Chicago, have introduced legislation in Springfield to create a super agency called the Metropolitan Mobility Authority that would replace the Regional Transportation Authority, CTA, Metra and Pace.

Creating a professional, single transit authority for the region is a big lift that must be skillfully done. But we like the idea that combining agencies could bring an integrated fare structure and improve service across the board.

A companion bill to provide $1.5 billion in additional yearly transit funding, if it can be done, is also good. So is the idea that a consolidated agency could reduce the vast expense of maintaining three separate transit bureaucracies.

“We need to have a robust conversation and make major strides to achieve the regional transit system our constituents deserve, one that is integrated, and commuter-centered,” Villivalam said.

“I imagine a time where riders will enjoy a seamless experience where they can easily jump on a bus or a train, feel safe, feel comfortable, pay one universal fare and arrive at their destination on time,” Delgado said.

Meanwhile, the Civic Federation released a position paper last week calling for an improved and better funded RTA that would take over and operate all three transit agencies, saving the state between $200 million to $250 million a year.

“This moment calls for bold thinking in the best interest of the public and a dramatic reimagining of what is possible for our transit services,” Civic Federation President Joe Ferguson said.

Agreed. Especially if that reimagining means CTA boss Dorval Carter is shown the door and a transit-savvy new board is seated. To that end, we suggest Springfield give the measures the hearing they deserve.

The Sun-Times welcomes letters to the editor and op-eds. Send letters to letters@suntimes.com.

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