The Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) has a lot of work to do if the northeastern Illinois public transit network it oversees plans on becoming a "world-class system" anytime soon, panelists said at a discussion on the topic Tuesday at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC).
The RTA is the oversight agency for the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), Metra and Pace, covering Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will counties. The agency was created in 1974 and was reformed in 1983 and 2008.
Stephen Schlickman, who served as RTA's executive director from 2005 to 2010 and currently heads up UIC's Urban Transportation Center, said RTA's multi-agency structure "isn’t working as well as it should be." He noted that regional public transit systems in other U.S. metro areas are typically organized as one agency. The region's current transit structure has four governing boards, for the RTA, CTA, Metra and Pace, with 47 members.
"There is a serious lack of accountability when you have such a complex structure," he stressed. "We have complexities, not only in governance, but also in service overlap, in capital planning and programming, in the equities in the allocation of our finances. These topics defy public understanding."