CHICAGO -- The head of the Regional Transportation Authority in northeastern Illinois last week proposed a major consolidation of transit services to avoid an anticipated budget shortfall of at least $84 million over the next two and a half years.

Gayle Franzen, the authority's chairman, said combining the authority's operating divisions into a single service entity would save more than $40 million a year. The Chicago Transit Authority, Metra suburban trains, and Pace suburban buses are the divisions.

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