RTA Proposes Merging CTA, Metra, Pace Planners

Merge could save the agency money, according to report

The Regional Transit Authority wants to combine the planning departments of Metra, the Chicago Transit Authority and Pace to potentially save the agencies a lot of money. 

The reported proposal comes as Gov. Pat Quinn meets for the first time Tuesday with the Northeastern Illinois Public Transit Task Force, a panel that includes former U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald and aims at reforming the area's transit system management amid recent scandal.

Metra has been embroiled in legal problems since ousted CEO Alex Clifford left in June with a $718,000 separation agreement. Clifford said he was forced out of the agency for resisting pressure from House Speaker Michael Madigan and others over jobs and construction contracts.

Metra's board has since lost several other members this year, including Larry Huggins, Chairman Brad O’Halloran, Paul Darley, Mike McCoy, and Stanley Rakestraw, who resigned over a residency issue just hours after Fitzgerald's appointment.

CTA board member Frank Zuccarelli resigned from his position in August after he was accused of double-dipping because he received $128,000 a year as supervisor of Thornton Township along with $25,000 from the CTA.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports a merge of all transit agencies could save big money. Though it's not known just how much could be saved, the 100 planners currently cost the agencies about $20 million.

“It’s clear that the mass transit system in northeastern Illinois is not working for taxpayers,” Quinn said last month. “This task force is a step forward to make our transit system worthy of the public’s trust. Their recommendations will be valuable as we work in both the veto and spring sessions to reform mass transit in northeastern Illinois.”       

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