RTA Shows How It Can Rein-in Transit Spending

February 22, 2008

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An agency that monitors Chicago-area public transit says it's ready to flex new legal muscle that could change future bus and train service.

The Regional Transportation Authority is supposed to rein-in spending at three service boards: the CTA, Metra and PACE. But for decades, it had as little power as a school hall monitor. Just ask RTA director Steve Schlickman.

SCHLICKMAN: The old way of doing business was haphazard, and that's reflected by the service boards developing their own expansion projects and winding up with twelve expansion projects clearly we can't afford.

But now, the RTA can veto big-ticket capital projects. It's added a five-step process before new train track gets laid or major bus terminals get built.

To make this work, the RTA can also wield another new power; it can now demand strategic planning budgets from the CTA, Metra and PACE.

I'm Shawn Allee, Chicago Public Radio.