Research Project

The Case for Rail Transit Expansion in the Chicago Central Area

The results of the whitepaper provide a viable argument for advancing the proposed Connector transit line in Chicago’s central area.

Principal Investigator
Zotti, Ed
Research Area(s)
Data Development
Funding Source
National University Rail Center (NURail)


The study resulted in a whitepaper that proposes the design, funding and creation of a new transit line (the “Connector”) to add needed capacity in the central area of Chicago, the fastest-growing part of the city. Assuming a 7-10 year implementation timeframe, the Connector’s first phase would come online just as north and northwest side “L” lines reached capacity. This would enable the central area to absorb a larger share of subsequent increases in transit demand. The paper recommends construction of 14 miles of new transit line; approximately 2/3 would be located on or adjacent to existing rail right-of-way, vacant land or public property. The Connector would be built in phases and would be funded by a 0.25% property tax increment levied through a special service area (SSA). The central area is dependent on rail transit, and the majority of central area workers use transit to get to their jobs. The CTA rail system is nearing capacity, and ridership is at the highest level since at least 1960.  Download "The Case for Rail Transit Expansion in the Chicago Central Area" whitepaper.