Public hearings coming soon on plan to consolidate CTA, Metra and Pace

Is the region ready for one supersized transit agency? You can learn more — and offer opinions — at a series of public hearings starting next week about combining Metra, Pace and the CTA.

Hearings on a plan to blend Metra, Pace and the CTA into one, big agency start next week.
Daily Herald File Photo

State Sen. Ram Villivalam and state Rep. Eva-Dina Delgado proposed merging the agencies in April. The next step is to engage the public, said Villivalam, chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee.

“In order to provide a public transit system that works for our people we have to collaboratively discuss how it can better serve our communities,” he said.

The three transit agencies are facing a funding crisis in 2026 when federal COVID-19 relief money runs out.

Proponents contend a merger will improve service, access, efficiency and increase cooperation between CTA, Metra and Pace.

“We want to make sure we’re hearing from both agencies and advocates and others, as well,” Villivalam said. The Chicago Democrat said he hopes for a “robust” dialogue.

Topics would include: “what is going right with the system and what needs to be improved upon … what type of governance we would like to see and how much revenues and funding we need.”

Four hearings are scheduled in the region and another in Springfield. Dates are as follows:

• 10 a.m. Tuesday, July 9, Bilandic Building, 160 N. LaSalle St., Chicago.

• 10 a.m. Wednesday, July 24, Cook County South Suburbs, location to be announced later.

• 10 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 8, DuPage, Will and Kendall counties, location to be announced later.

• 10 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 28, Kane and McHenry counties, location to be announced later.

The legislation would abolish the boards of the three agencies and the Regional Transportation Authority and replace them with a new entity, the Metropolitan Mobility Authority.

Chicago Transit Authority and Pace officials have argued that combining the agencies won’t solve the funding shortfall caused by a drop in ridership amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

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