CHICAGO - While the Regional Transportation Authority's service boards in Illinois are benefiting from an increase in the sales tax rate won earlier this year, the agency warned this week that they face $190 million in additional fiscal "pressures" as they craft their 2009 budget amid rising fuel and maintenance costs, a drop in state funding, and sluggish sales tax collections.

The RTA attributed its transit service boards' current struggles to a combination of challenges that include $50 million from rising fuel prices that are expected to drive that expense up to $250 million next year, another $50 million that must be spent on maintenance without a new infusion of state capital funding, and the $30 million loss in fares that otherwise would be paid by seniors.

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