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updated: 10/17/2013 11:44 AM

DuPage County opposes bill eliminating RTA board

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It's unlikely state lawmakers will vote any time soon on legislation to merge the Regional Transit Authority with the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning.

That hasn't stopped DuPage County officials from pushing for the idea to be dropped.

Members of the DuPage County Board's legislative committee this week directed the county's lobbyist in Springfield to work against the Transportation Modernization Act, which calls for the existing CMAP board to govern the RTA. The RTA board would be dissolved under the proposal.

"We have serious concerns that the suburbs, particularly DuPage County, are going to be shortchanged," said John Curran, vice chairman of the legislative committee. "As they look to potentially restructure the oversight of the whole mass transit system, we want to make sure there's equity and fairness for DuPage County residents."

But the state lawmaker who sponsored the legislation says it probably won't be considered during the coming veto session.

"We're working closely with the governor's office to try to resolve this whole mess with Metra," state Sen. Terry Link said Wednesday. "So we want to make sure whatever we do is done in unison."

Link, a Waukegan Democrat, said he expects the earliest a vote could happen is early next year. By that time, there might be several changes to the proposal.

"We're holding it," he said. "And we're going to be working on it."

Link said the legislation is necessary because the RTA board needs to be restructured. He said he believes the Metra scandal could have been avoided if more oversight were in place.

If the legislation is approved, the 16-person RTA board's responsibilities would be assumed by an expanded 16-person CMAP board.

Right now, the CMAP board has 15 members. The additional member would be appointed by the governor.

Still, DuPage officials say the proposal doesn't address the "funding and representation discrepancies" that fail to recognize the county's population growth. For example, they argue DuPage should have more representatives on the RTA and CMAP boards.

"I don't think it (the legislation) would be acceptable at all because I don't believe merging RTA and CMAP is the solution," said Tonia Khouri, chairwoman of the county board's ad hoc committee on mass transit.

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