Daywatch: Lawmakers to propose merging CTA, Metra and Pace

Good morning, Chicago.

The Chicago area’s public bus and rail systems would be combined under a measure Illinois lawmakers are expected to introduce, which would eliminate the CTA, Metra and Pace as separate agencies.

The legislation comes as complaints have mounted over the Chicago Transit Authority’s struggles to provide frequent, reliable and safe service, and days after Gov. J.B. Pritzker called for “an evolution of the leadership” at the CTA. But it is linked to an earlier report laying out recommendations about what Chicago-area transit could look like in the future, and marks a decision to pursue the more comprehensive of two options outlined in the report to overhaul oversight of public transportation.

The proposal is part of a broader look at transit funding, as the region’s public transit agencies face a combined $730 million budget hole once federal COVID-19 relief funding starts running out, which could be as soon as 2025. Transit agencies have warned failure to plug the financial hole could lead to catastrophic service cuts and fare increases, and the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning was tasked by the Illinois General Assembly with developing recommendations to overhaul transit, which were delivered to lawmakers in December.

Read the full story from the Tribune’s Sarah Freishtat.

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