Chicago Transit Authority

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For the band or album named Chicago Transit Authority, see Chicago (band).
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Quincy "L" Station serving the Brown Line, Purple Line and Orange Line

The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), founded on October 1, 1947, provides bus and rail mass transit services to the citizens of Chicago and several of the city's inner suburbs.



In 1914, all street railways in and immediately around Chicago consolidated to become Chicago Surface Lines (CSL). In 1924, another amalgam of small companies, made up of Chicago and South Side Rapid Transit Co. (formed in 1892), Lake Street Elevated Railroad Co. (1893), Metropolitan West Side Elevated Railroad Co. (1895), and Northwestern Elevated Railroad Co. (1900), all consolidated to form the Chicago Rapid Transit Company (CRT). These two consolidated companies eventually became the foundation for the CTA.

The CTA was created by an act of the Illinois legislature, at the time of its formation it assumed operation of most of the city's local transportation services after it acquired the properties of the Chicago Surface Lines and the Chicago Rapid Transit Company.

In 1983, the Illinois Legislature passed the Regional Transportation Act creating the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA). The Act created Metra out of the regional commuter rail lines and Pace out of the suburban bus companies, but it gave some budgetary control of the CTA to the RTA. Since then, CTA has been required to recover 51% of its operating expenses in the farebox and have approved its 5-year capital program by the RTA. CTA is free to set service levels and fares within those guidelines.

In 1997, after the Clinton Administration cut Federal operating assistance to the CTA, the CTA was forced to cut 10% of its bus service.

In 2005, the CTA faced a budget crisis with a budge shortfall of $55 million. The CTA threaten that if it did not receive assistance from the Illinois state government, it will have to use a so called "doomsday" plan. This plan would eliminate 54 bus routes and the Purple Line Express, run Sunday routes everyday, transfers would be eliminated, and the fare would be increased to $2. However, some extra service would be added during rush hour and Chicago Card and other transit card users would not see a fare hike. The state was able to provided the funding for the CTA. Many people are critical of how the CTA spends money and the state will run a audit on the organization in the near future.

Operations and service area

Template:CTA The CTA operates the second largest public transportation system in the United States and covers the City of Chicago and 40 surrounding suburbs. On an average weekday, 1.4 million rides are taken on the CTA.

CTA has approximately 2,000 buses that operate over 152 routes and 2,273 route miles. Buses provide about 1 million passenger trips a day and serve more than 12,000 posted bus stops. CTA's 1,190 rapid transit cars operate over seven routes and 222 miles of track. CTA trains provide about 500,000 customer trips each day and serve 144 stations in Chicago, Evanston, Skokie, Wilmette, Rosemont, Forest Park, Oak Park and Cicero.

Chicago is one of the few cities in the world that provides rapid transit service to two major airports. From the downtown area the CTA's Blue Line takes customers to O'Hare International Airport in about 40 minutes and the Orange Line takes customers to Midway Airport in about 30 minutes.

Chicago Transit Board

The governing arm of the CTA is the Chicago Transit Board. The board consists of seven members appointed by the Mayor of Chicago and the Governor of Illinois. The Mayor's appointees are subject to the approval of the Governor and the Chicago City Council; the Governor's appointees are subject to the approval of the Mayor and the Illinois State Senate. CTA's day-to-day operations are directed by its President.


The CTA generates revenue from farebox collections and also receives supplemental funding for operating expenses from the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA).

CTA Budget 1999
Operating Budget $795.9 million
Capital Budget $235.0 million
CTA Budget 2000
Operating Budget $841 million
Capital Budget $409 million
CTA Budget 2001
Operating Budget $869 million
Capital Budget $477 million
CTA Budget 2002
Operating Budget $915 million
Capital Budget $495 million
CTA Budget 2003
Operating Budget $925 million
Capital Budget $539 million


The Chicago Transit Authority employs more than 11,000 people.

Contact information

Chicago Transit Authority
567 W. Lake Street
Chicago, IL 60661

See also

External links

  • Chicago Transit Authority ( - official site, including a trip planner.
  • Chicago "L".org ( - the Internet's largest resource for information on Chicago's rapid transit system.
  • Midwest Unrest ( - a site by a group that tried to organize a fare strike to get the CTA to delay cuts in December 2004.

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