Pace was created by reform legislation in late 1983, and through the RTA Act of 1984, Pace became responsible for providing public transportation to the residents of northeastern Illinois. It began operating throughout Chicago’s six-county suburbs in mid-1984. Since that time, the Pace service area has increased to more than 5.2 million people.

Pace is the suburban bus division of the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA). Pace covers 3,500 square miles and is the one of the largest bus services in North America. In 2005, through a change in state law, the Illinois General Assembly shifted to Pace the operational responsibility for Chicago’s ADA paratransit service. Thus, on July 1, 2006, Pace began operating paratransit service for individuals with disabilities in Chicago, in addition to its ADA paratransit and Dial-a-Ride services throughout the suburban area.

The Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) is the financial review, oversight and planning agency for Pace, Metra and the Chicago Transit Authority. Being one of three operating divisions of the RTA, Pace provides the most innovative and diverse service. Metra operates the commuter rail service and since Pace operates the ADA paratransit for the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) , the CTA provides primarily urban rail and fixed route bus services.

What Is Paces’ Vision

Mobility Management started in the early 1990’s when staff recognized that a family of services would be necessary to serve the Chicago suburban area. In 1998 a new Executive Director came to Pace and the vision really took hold.

In 2002, Pace launched the biggest transit initiative ever proposed for Chicago’s suburbs, called Vision 2020: Blueprint for the Future. The innovative plan is creating a faster network that is more convenient and simpler to understand.

The Vision 2020 plan will serve the needs of this region’s residents. Over the next two decades, they hope to have a system in place that can provide public transportation to everyone in northeastern Illinois. They will offer express routes on major roadways that will connect with smaller community-based services at regional and community transportation centers. Along with the ability to move quickly throughout the region, they envision a network of service that will get people to their specific destinations – workplaces, homes, entertainment or community events. Wherever you need to go, Pace will be able to get you there in a manner that is fast, easy and affordable.

In addition to these services, Pace is working to further improve the infrastructure of our suburban communities. The suburbs have been designed primarily for automobiles, so modifications are required to allow people to access public transportation on foot and/or bicycle. Part of the Vision 2020 plan concentrates on these infrastructure improvements – sidewalks, curb cuts and bike racks.

Pace believes that public transportation is the solution to reducing the region’s congestion. Vision 2020 allows Pace to serve the needs of all citizens of northeastern Illinois. But, we they believe they need public support to make the enhancement of public transportation a priority for the leaders in this region.


Pace is governed by a 13 member Board of Directors comprised of current and former suburban mayors and the Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities for the City of Chicago. This board serves the suburban community and has responsibility for policy, the final budget and hiring the Executive Director.

Name Current Position Represents
Richard A. Kwasneski, Chairman of the Board Former President, Village of Lemont Northeastern Illinois region
Kyle R. Hastings President, Village of Orland Hills Southwest Suburban Cook County
Al Larson, President, Village of Schaumburg Northwest Suburban Cook County
Thomas D. Marcucci Mayor, City of Elmhurst DuPage County
Frank C. Mitchell, Former Mayor, City of Lockport Will County
Anna Montana President, Village of Schiller Park North Central Suburban Cook County
Vacant Central Suburban Cook County
Jeffery D. Schielke Mayor, City of Batavia Kane County
Aaron T. Shepley, Mayor, City of Crystal Lake McHenry County
Vernon T. Squires, Former President, Village of Wilmette North Shore Suburban Cook County
Karen Tamley, Commissioner, Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities City of Chicago
Terry R. Wells, President, Village of Phoenix South Suburban Cook County
Richard Welton, Former President, Village of Gurnee Lake County
Thomas J. (T.J.) Ross Executive Director

Pace also has a citizen’s advisory committee that is representative of the famous BORPSAT (bunch of the right people sitting around a table). The advisory committee represents many community leaders, not necessarily politicians. The advisory board is listed below:

Name Affiliation
Hon. Sheila Schultz, Chair Former Village President of Wheeling
Ms. Sheila Schwartz Vice Chair Asst. VP, Barrington Bank & Trust
Mr. Daniel Bujas Transportation Director, United Parcel Service
Mr. Joseph Harrington Manager/Director of Corporate Communications American Association of Insurance Services
Mr. Donald J. McKay, Architect, Nagle Hartray Danker Kagan McKay Penney Architects Ltd.
Pastor Jeffrey Mullins Pastor, Victory Christian International Church
Mir Ali Shamrock Company, franchisee of Yum Brands
Hon. Ariel E. Reboyras Alderman, 30th Ward, City of Chicago
Adam Kerman Executive Director, Transit Riders Authority
Dr. Joseph Schofer Professor, Northwestern University

Pace Services

Pace operates and manages a number of innovative and creative services. These include:

  • Pace’s state-of-the-art Intelligent Bus System is a major component of Vision 2020. Improved efficiency and reduced waiting times are key benefits of the IBS.
  • One of Pace’s biggest successes is its Vanpool Incentive Program, which debuted in 1991. Groups save by commuting to work in a van that is owned, insured and maintained by Pace, but driven by a vanpool participant. It is among the largest vanpool programs in the country, second only to the Seattle, WA vanpool program. This program also provides the ADA Vantage program, which provides vehicles to sheltered workshops for work and other related trips. This takes the regular work trips out of the ADA subscription trips and also provides a lower cost ADA trip.
  • Pace has also improved transit by installing bike racks on every bus, and making its fleet wheelchair accessible.
  • The Pace Community Vehicle Program offers units of local government with a low-cost way to provide transportation service to constituents in a variety of ways. Communities and other eligible entities can use vehicles leased from Pace to operate local circulator service, dial-a-ride, or for group trips and outings.
  • The Employer Commuter Grant is managed by Pace with funds coming through the Illinois Department of Transportation. The aim of this grant is to reduce the number of single occupancy vehicles on the road, free up valuable parking space, improve air quality and support the attraction and retention of the valuable workforce necessary to strengthen the region’s employers. The Rideshare program has grown significantly over the last few years as the increase in carpools clearly demonstrates.
  • Staff members try to use public transit when the go to meetings, but when they cannot use public transportation on Pace business, they use fuel-efficient fleet cars.
  • Pace provides its employees with $75/month incentive to use a vanpool.
  • Pace has started using transit signal priority which saves time and fuel potentially wasted by buses at a red light.
  • RTA operates a travel training program for all ADA eligible participants that trains individuals how to use fixed route buses. This program has proven successful in providing better mobility options to individuals with special needs.
  • They also operate a Taxi Access program that provides mobility for people with disabilities, primarily for short trips. They use an account based magnetic strip card for this program, which allows for more control and reduces fraud.
  • Pace is part of the RTA web based trip planner that allows individuals to access schedules, maps and routing using web based software. This serves Pace, the CTA, and Metra.
  • Pace is also working toward meshing the social network media, Facebook, Twitter, etc. with their operations
  • Pace, the Suburban Bus Division of the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA), has prepared Development Guidelines to encourage the coordination of real estate development and transit service. The recommendations in this manual are designed to help municipalities accommodate transit service in their development plans. In numerous instances, Pace has not been able to serve locations due to street layouts and designs that do not support bus service. By designing for public transportation in initial development plans, Pace transit vehicles will be accommodated thereby promoting transit as a viable means of suburban transportation. Coordinated planning not only can result in effective transit service but may also lead to the reduction of traffic congestion and associated environmental impacts.

Operating Statistics

Pace Employees: 1,605

Operating Divisions: 11

Service Area: DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, Will and Cook Counties

Communities served: 210

Population of service area: Approximately 8.4 Million Residents

Total ridership in 2008: 40.5 million

Park-n-Ride facilities: 11 Metra Stations: 122 CTA Station: 25

Fixed bus routes: 217 (all accessible)

Paratransit buses: 372

Vanpools: 711 Vanpool ridership in 2007: 996,954


Transportation is funded in the Chicago area with a 11/4% sales tax.

Pace Operating Budget

Total Operating Expenses $303,976,000

Total Operating revenue $59,796,000

Net Deficit $244,180,000

Pace Suburban Services are budgeted to receive $133.5 million in funding in 2011. Sales tax makes up most of this funding, but Pace also receives funding from 5307, CMAQ, and some of their own internal funds.

The ADA service which is funded separately by the RTA amounts to about $110,000,000 annually. This money is primarily sales tax, but there is a small part that comes from State funds and RTA Funds from budget adjustments.

Total Pace Suburban Capital Program $80,300,000

The funding for this program comes from IDOT, FTA, CMAQ and Pace Funds


Pace is a very innovative and creative transit system. They are willing to try new programs and have many other innovative programs in the works. They think like the New Paradigm model, where they believe in managing mobility and not necessarily managing assets. There innovation involves looking at the most cost effective way to improve suburban mobility.

Contact Information:

Thomas (TJ) Ross
Executive Director
Pace Suburban Bus Service
550 West Algonquin Road
Arlington Heights, IL 60005
Phone: 847-228-2301
Fax: 847-228-2327

Interviewed By: James J. McLary

Interview Dates: 12/23/2010 and 1/5/2011

Date of This Report: 1/24/2011

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