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Transit Today: Can’t Get There from Here

TransitConnectivityMap

As good as our regional transit system is for some, for many Cook County residents, it’s simply impossible to connect to jobs or access other parts of the region via transit. While the urban core is well connected, not everyone in Cook County is equally served.

Areas on the periphery of the county—including communities that contain major job centers—are nearly unreachable without a car. However, owning a car is an expense many just cannot afford.

QUALITY, RELIABLE PUBLIC TRANSIT SHOULD BE A CONNECTOR, AN EQUALIZER, A FAST TRACK TO OPPORTUNITY.

For a while, it was. But our transit system was developed for an early 20th century economy focused on Chicago’s Loop. Today, our regional economy is much more dispersed, and our transit system has not kept up with this expansion. Four of the region’s five top job centers—the northwest corridor past O’Hare, Lombard, Naperville, and Oak Brook—are currently not served by rapid transit. These job centers are home to more than a quarter-million jobs, but are located far from neighborhoods (like some on Chicago’s South and West Sides and suburbs) with the highest unemployment and poverty, denying access for those who need jobs the most.

This disparity in transit access and frequency, or transit connectivity, leaves many residents stranded. Residents of neighborhoods and communities with high transit connectivity, on the other hand, have better access to jobs, more walkable streets, and lower household transportation costs.

The region needs expanded transit service targeted to areas that are currently less connected. Chicago-area citizens deserve improved transit service that provides:

  • Rapid transit access to much more of the region
  • Greater connectivity between rail and bus services
  • More frequent off-peak service
  • More modern stations with state-of-the-art communications systems
  • Less crowding

Improved, expanded and modernized public transit can energize economies in neighborhoods, connect workers to jobs, improve the quality of our air, and provide real savings for real people.

TRANSIT FUTURE CALLS FOR A NEW, DEDICATED REVENUE SOURCE FOR CAPITAL INVESTMENTS IN TRANSIT

Realizing our vision for transit means an investment of some $20 billion. That’s a big number, but there’s a way to get there.

The Cook County Board of Commissioners can create robust revenue stream to fund the construction of new train and bus lines. This local revenue will open the door to federal and other financing tools that will pay for the rest. Chicago and Cook County cannot afford to lose millions in federal and other funding for transit projects by not having a local match.

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