Transit riders and advocates propose state legislation to improve Chicagoland transit service through better investment

CHICAGO, IL – Riders for Better Transit  joined with transit riders and advocates from across the Chicago region to introduce Transit Fast Forward (SB 3236), state legislation that would improve Chicagoland transit service through increased investment and a dedicated source of funding that would grow over time.

Riders for Better Transit urges Chicagoland residents to tell their state legislators to support the Transit Fast Forward bill at www.RidersForBetterTransit.org.

The proposed legislation is aimed at addressing the inadequate funding for transit options at a time when residents are increasingly looking for an alternative to driving. The Chicago area is one of the country’s most congested regions. Strong transit service helps reduce congestion, improve commute times, save households money and enhance the region’s quality-of-life, making transit one of the wisest transportation investments available.

Transit Fast Forward would generate an estimated $11.6 million in 2013, and a projected $168 million over the first five years. It indexes the state gas tax with inflation, a move that will dedicate an additional fraction of a penny per gallon to public transportation. The end result will be better commutes for drivers and transit riders alike.

“Congressional leaders in D.C. may be talking about cutting dedicated federal funding for transit, but in the Chicago region we know that the conversation needs to be about moving transportation forward, not backward,” says Ron Burke, executive director of the Active Transportation Alliance.

“Transit reduces congestion and air pollution, gets people to work affordably and efficiently, attracts jobs, and is vital to the Chicago region’s economy,” says Jennifer Henry of the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Transit Fast Forward is an important step toward solidifying our region’s investment in transit.”

“Metra actually carries 50 percent of the commuters coming into the downtown area during peak hours,” says Samuel Smith of Metra. “Public transit is what keeps our region’s economy moving, but we need to invest in keeping it strong.”

Without Metra, 29 lanes of expressway would need to be built, while CTA alone replaces about 400,000 vehicles on regional roads each work day.

Chicagoland transit riders are organizing and speaking up to demand better transit. The first Transit Day of Action kicked off this morning. Dozens of volunteers from Riders for Better Transit passed out fliers at downtown train stations to ask Chicagoland residents to contact their state legislators in support of better transit.

About Transit Fast Forward (SB 3236):

  • Indexes state motor fuel tax to inflation, adjusted annually
  • Applies only to the six counties served by CTA, Metra and Pace
  • Directs new incremental revenue to the Public Transportation Fund; road funds unaffected
  • Helps rebuild aging infrastructure and expand service with projects like Bus Rapid Transit
  • Helps transit agencies manage rising costs due to inflation and partially offset chronic funding shortfalls that have led to service cuts
  • Estimated 2013 increase in state motor fuel tax: two-fifths of a cent per gallon
  • Estimated new revenue for transit in 2013: $11.6 million
  • Estimated total new revenue for transit over first five years: $168 million
  • Last increase in state motor fuel tax: 1990
  • Increase in CTA train fare since 1990: 80 percent

Riders for Better Transit is a project of Active Transportation Alliance (Active Trans), in partnership with Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Active Trans is a non-profit organization with more than 6,800 members advocating to improve conditions for biking, walking and transit in the Chicago region. NRDC is a non-profit organization that uses law, science, and the support of 1.3 million members and online activists nationwide to ensure a safe and healthy environment for all living things.