The Chicago Transit Authority ("CTA") is the operator of the United States’ second largest public transportation system, offering both bus and rapid transit rail service to the City of Chicago and surrounding suburbs. The CTA began operating on October 1, 1947 as an independent governmental agency created by state legislation. The CTA's extensive system consists of a fixed route bus service covering 2,517 miles and rail service with over 224 miles of track. CTA’s infrastructure provides 1.8 million passenger trips on an average weekday (based on figures from Summer 2008). The CTA's 2,222 buses operate over 153 routes and make approximately 25,366 trips per day serving 12,000 bus stops. The CTA's 1,190 rail cars serve 144 stations on over eight routes and make approximately 2,413 trips each day.
The CTA is governed by the Chicago Transit Board that consists of seven members, four appointed by the Mayor of Chicago and three by the Governor of Illinois; the board is chaired by Terry Peterson. 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. The CTA's day-to-day operations are directed by Forrest Claypool, President of the Chicago Transit Authority.
The CTA generates income from both farebox collections and non-farebox revenues, and it also receives supplemental funding to subsidize operating expenses from the Regional Transportation Authority ("RTA"). The RTA was established in 1974 to oversee local transportation operators in the six-county Chicago metropolitan area. Illinois state law requires that the three RTA service boards—CTA, Metra (the Chicago suburban rail system) and Pace (the Chicago suburban bus system) collectively recover at least 50 percent of operating costs from farebox and other system revenues. RTA provides public funding for the agencies' remaining operating expenses.