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Fund Transit Too

As Cook County’s Commissioners consider a one-percentage-point sales tax increase, the Center for Neighborhood Technology’s Jacky Grimshaw has penned a letter to the editor in Crain’s Chicago endorsing the proposal, but urging commissioners to fund transit too.

July 4, 2015

We at the Center for Neighborhood Technology and the Active Transportation Alliance, leaders of the Transit Future campaign, support this and challenge commissioners to fund our public transit infrastructure as well.

How will our investment pay off? It will reduce the amount that people spend on transportation, which in Cook County equals 15 to 25 percent of the average household’s annual income. This difference is considerable—$6,116 per household per year, or $510 per month.

Lowering the cost of living would be one of the biggest returns on transit investment. Our roads, highways and bridges will work better when we reduce the number of cars, cutting down on wear and tear and adding decades of use. It will stimulate investment in communities connected to the expanded transit system. Each of these alone could be worth billions of dollars.

We urge the board to invest now while addressing past problems. We must create a dedicated revenue stream to help the region leverage resources to improve and expand transit. Creating a fund through a modest increase in gas taxes, user taxes, parking taxes and fees, or a portion of the sales tax increase will help us remain competitive in attracting other sources of funding, including federal dollars.

Funding transit expansion is an investment with a continuing return.

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