DuPage County Board member Tonia Khouri (R-Aurora) is warning that changes proposed for the Regional Transportation Authority could leave DuPage County underrepresented on its governing board.
Senate Bill 1594, sponsored by Waukegan Democrat Terry Link, would consolidate the RTA Board with that of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning to create a new entity with a new board of directors.
“Because it increases the size of the doard, it decreases our effectiveness,” Khouri said.
Link’s website indicates the move would consolidate and streamline operations, save money and improve service. But Khouri says the makeup of the proposed board would put DuPage at a clear disadvantage.
Currently, the RTA Board is made up of five members from the city of Chicago, five from suburban Cook County and one each from DuPage, Lake, Will, Kane and McHenry counties. The RTA Board chairman is also a voting member.
The consolidated body would still have 15 members from Chicago, suburban Cook and the collar counties, but would add three voting members appointed by the governor.
The RTA oversees the Pace bus service, Metra commuter rail service and the Chicago Transit Authority.
DuPage County collects a .75 percent RTA sales tax, of which two-thirds goes to the RTA, with the rest staying in DuPage for local purposes.
Statistics from the RTA show that 15.6 percent of DuPage’s RTA sales tax dollars in 2012 — $13.7 million — went to the CTA. Khouri made a point of noting that she’d never known a CTA bus to operate in DuPage County.
Khouri also said that RTA’s allocation of discretionary funds from the state left something to be desired. In 2013, discretionary funds totaled $189 million, of which $185 million, or 98-percent, went to the CTA, she said.
With two of the busiest Metra stations in the area being in Naperville, Khouri noted the importance of the service to DuPage, and vowed to work with DuPage’s newest Metra Board appointee, former County Board member John Zediker, to ensure DuPage isn’t shortchanged in funding.
She stressed that coalitions with other counties is a must to make sure the suburbs remain a powerful voice concerning the RTA, although she said that she is “not going to speak for Kane County.”