CTA awarded $912.1M in federal American Rescue Plan funds

The funds, announced Tuesday, will help the nation’s second-largest public transportation system maintain its services and keep more than 10,000 people employed.

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A CTA bus

The Chicago Transit Authority has been awarded $912.1 million in federal American Rescue Plan funds.

Sun-Times file

The Chicago Transit Authority has been awarded $912.1 million in federal American Rescue Plan funds to help maintain services and prevent possible layoffs, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announced Tuesday. 

With ridership remaining a fraction of pre-pandemic levels, CTA spokesperson Felicia Matthews called the additional federal support “critical” in helping the nation’s second-largest public transportation system continue to provide rides for many of the region’s 8.6 million residents.

“Since the onset of the pandemic, the CTA has continued to run 24/7, and was the only large U.S. transit agency to not cut scheduled service,” Matthews said in a statement. “This additional federal funding will help ensure CTA can continue providing as much bus and rail service as possible in support of the city’s ongoing recovery efforts.”

The CTA employs about 10,600 workers and provided nearly 200 million trips last year. The money will keep those employees on the agency’s payroll for the foreseeable future and help support CTA’s day-to-day operations, according to Matthews.

The funding was made possible through the American Rescue Plan Act, which allocated more than $30 billion worth of federal money for public transportation. President Joe Biden signed the economic stimulus bill into law in March.

“Public transportation has connected communities and helped people reach their jobs, hospitals, grocery stores, and more throughout this pandemic,” Buttigieg said in a statement. “This funding from President Biden’s American Rescue Plan will help keep transit service running, protect transit employees from layoffs, and ensure people can get where they need to go.”

CTA’s most recent ridership report from last November revealed that ridership is up from 2020 but only a little more than half of pre-pandemic levels. Bus ridership was up 47% from the previous year but still only 56% of 2019 levels, according to the report. Meanwhile, rail ridership fared much better. It was up 107% from 2020, though that’s still only 45% of what it was before the coronavirus upended normalcy, the report shows.

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