Will investing extra tax dollars into Chicago's public transit yield a positive, long-term return in terms of economic growth and new jobs for the region? That was the central policy question facing Illinois legislators and the Chicago business community: How much to fund the Chicago Regional Transportation Authority in its current and future budget cycles, weighed against many other funding demands like health and schools? Legislators need to know just how future metro-area economic growth is tied to investment in public transit over coming decades.
Chicago RTA comissioned a study to examine how future metro area economic growth can be affected by alternate levels of investment in public transit. The report, by Chicago Metropolis 2020, a civic organization, examined four alternative scenarios for increasing transport funding levels over time, decreasing them or holding them steady (after adjusting for inflation). The study also examined how land use policies and changes in motor fuel prices can affect those outcomes. details four hypothetical transit investment scenarios for Chicago's regional economy. The analysis relied on TREDIS (Transportation Economic Development Impact System) to calculate the expected regional economic growth impacts associated with the four scenarios, and their changes over the period from 2007 and 2020.