RTA head says transit funds good, but not enough

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Stimulus money now being spent on big-city transportation networks, while helpful, isn’t enough over the long haul to keep aging systems from falling into further disrepair, a top Chicago transit agency official said Tuesday.

Stimulus money now being spent on big-city transportation networks, while helpful, isn’t enough over the long haul to keep aging systems from falling into further disrepair, a top Chicago transit agency official said Tuesday.

Chicago-area commuter trains, subway and buses received around $400 million from the federal stimulus bill and secured nearly $1 billion from a small construction plan approved by the Illinois legislature last month.

But that still falls short of the estimated $10 billion Chicago networks will need over five years to bring infrastructure into good repair and to expand some services, said Steve Schlickman, director of the Regional Transportation Authority.

The RTA had hoped that a larger construction bill state legislators are now discussing would include an additional $4 billion for mass transit, most of which would go to Chicago, but it appears the amount will end up being closer to $2 billion, he said.

“This year is going to be the best one-year capital program we’ve ever had,” Schlickman told The Associated Press. “But if the state doesn’t add more in terms of a multiyear program, then we fall off a cliff again.”

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