Transit Future Launches Bold Vision, Campaign to Fund Transit
Cook County Revenue Stream Could Leverage Billions for Improvement + Expansion
CHICAGO, April 3, 2014 – Two leading, Chicago-based transit advocates announced a plan today to secure Cook County’s largest investment in new public transit infrastructure since 1947. The Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT) and the Active Transportation Alliance were joined by Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and Former Santa Monica Mayor Denny Zane at the launch of the Transit Future campaign.
Transit Future calls on the Cook County Board of Commissioners to adopt a robust revenue stream to fund the improvement and expansion of Chicago and Cook County’s transit system. A new revenue source will allow the County to take advantage of America Fast Forward and other financing tools at the federal level.
“We need to invest in our transit network,” said Jacky Grimshaw, Vice President for Policy at CNT and Director of Transit Future. “Building a world-class transit system requires a steady, long-term investment. With more than $20 billion in potential expansion and improvement projects, we can’t afford to wait. Creating a local, matching revenue stream can unlock billions in federal and other funding for the kinds of transit projects that can make our region more livable, economically competitive, and environmentally sustainable.”
President Preckwinkle highlighted the need for improved and expanded transit service in Cook County to connect people to jobs and as an economic development strategy. “This is not just about investing in transit for transit’s sake, it’s about helping people move around the region – to jobs, to school, to opportunities,” said President Toni Preckwinkle. “Cook County should be a leader in developing transportation systems that drive a modern, sustainable, and equitable economy. My administration is committed to assuming that leadership role.”
Mayor Emanuel echoed the need for reliable and modern transit in Chicago. “The strength of the Chicago and regional economy depend on a diverse and interconnected transportation network that provides safe, reliable options to Chicagoans in every neighborhood,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “From our work to rebuild the Red Line South, to modernizing the Blue Line, to launching bike share and a record number of protected bike lanes, we support all efforts to invest in our crumbling transportation infrastructure so that we have a strong foundation to continue growing our economy and creating jobs.”
Inspiration for Transit Future comes from California, where voters in Los Angeles County approved a half-cent sales tax increase to fund $40 billion in new and expanded transit. Leaders of this effort, Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Former Santa Monica Mayor Denny Zane, described the transformational impact the Move LA campaign had in the Los Angeles region.
“With such sharp focus on modernizing and expanding transit, this is a tremendously exciting time for the people of Chicago and Cook County,” said Mayor Villaraigosa. “Just as we did for our region, you are thinking outside the box to access new sources of funding for transit. Now, with America Fast Forward, Cook County can seek federal funds to build better transit, create new jobs, and advance the region’s long-term economic and environmental well-being.”
“With fluctuating gas prices, congested roads and more people wanting transit as an alternative, we should be doing everything possible to make transit an easy choice,” said Ron Burke, executive director of the Active Transportation Alliance. “That includes adding new rail and express bus routes that zip across our hub and spoke system and better connect our region.”
Transit Future also offers a bold vision of what an expanded transit system in Cook County and the Chicago region could look like. It is a vision of connectivity and opportunity, of potential and prosperity.
The transit lines, extensions, and service routes highlighted by Transit Future are intended to serve as inspiration for how we might better connect underserved neighborhoods to job centers, entertainment venues, and other amenities. Transit Future does not prescribe specific projects or actions to transit agencies.
Greater investment in and around transit was identified as a top regional priority by the Northeastern Illinois Public Transit Task Force, a group of civic and corporate leaders tapped by Governor Quinn to address transit challenges and opportunities. Among the Task Force recommendations for financing transit was to “Consider new funding options to expand resources for operations and capital investments.” Transit Future follows this recommendation by advocating for a funding stream at the county level that can leverage new sources of federal financing, such as America Fast Forward.
Transit Future invites all who wish to see a growing and equitable regional economy, access to good jobs, and ways to move around safely and conveniently to join the campaign.
Transit Future is led by the Center for Neighborhood Technology and the Active Transportation Alliance, and advised by a Leadership Group of individuals and organizations committed to transit expansion and improvement in the Chicago region.