At a Glance
- The RTA is the third largest public transportation system in North America, providing more than two million rides a day.
- Our system has 7,200 route miles in the six-county region that currently has a population of approximately 8.3 million people.
- The combined assets of the RTA are valued at more than $151 billion and include 2,468 buses, 2,210 rail cars, 410 paratransit vehicles and 694 vanpool vehicles.
The Mission of the RTA
In 1983, the RTA Act was amended with substantial changes made to the RTA's organization, funding and operations. The amended Act created three "service boards" known as the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), Metra commuter rail and Pace suburban bus. The RTA's primary responsibilities became financial and budget oversight of CTA, Metra and Pace, and regional transit planning issues.
Guiding the RTA's oversight responsibility is a Board of Directors who approves an annual budget and two-year financial plan. The Board consists of 15 members and a chairman appointed from the six-county region. The RTA Board is also required annually to review and approve a five-year capital plan, which is a blueprint of the capital activities to be funded by the RTA and executed by the CTA, Metra, and Pace.
The CTA, Metra and Pace are each led by a Board of Directors which determines levels of service, fares and operational policies. The CTA is governed by the Chicago Transit Board whose seven members are appointed by the Mayor of Chicago and the governor. Metra's Board consists of 11 members appointed by the region's county boards and the Mayor of Chicago. Pace is governed by a 12-member Board made up of current and former suburban village presidents and mayors.
With over 35 years of reliable and convenient service, the RTA has grown to become an integral part of residential and business communities throughout northeastern Illinois.
In 1974 the RTA was created upon approval of a referendum in the northeastern Illinois region of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will counties. The RTA is considered a special purpose unit of local government and a municipal corporation of the State of Illinois. Initially, the RTA provided financial assistance to existing public transit operators. As the need for public transportation increased, the RTA's role expanded to include the acquisition and operation of public transportation carriers as well as contracting to provide service.