Today the RTA, CTA, Metra, Pace and Amtrak joined mass transit districts across Illinois for a Get on Board Day event at Chicago’s Union Station. Speakers included representatives from local entities and local and statewide leaders expressed their strong support for long-term, consistent funding of Illinois’ public transportation systems. (You can still make your voice heard by going to www.GetonBoardIL.org!)
Our regional transportation system needs long term, sustainable funding—the kind that will assure our system can continue to be the backbone of our regional economy for years to come. In northeast Illinois, the regional transit system now has $30 billion of unmet high-priority projects, and downstate Illinois transit agencies have more than $1.5 billion in reinvestment needs.
Today’s “Get On Board Day” is really a national event, shining a light on transit funding needs across the country. But we have a critical need here in Illinois. Our state hasn’t passed a capital bill since 2009—and I remember that, as I was a State Senator and knew even then how important capital investment is to our state. It’s time to pass a capital bill again and to make sure transit gets the investment we need.
Two-thirds of the people who come downtown to Chicago every day take transit. It saves riders time and money and attracts jobs and employers. But we know it’s not perfect. I am a Metra rider and I personally have seen what the lack of funding means during a brutal winter or hot summer day. We’ve all been stuck on buses that can’t move due to traffic congestion and on trains that are stuck in slow zones.
We see other states prioritizing transit investment and it’s time for Illinois to do the same. Our system is a jewel, and a key economic driver for our region and state. We must care for it and maintain it so it can be enjoyed by future generations. Make your voice heard by telling our elected officials in Springfield to include public transit funding in any capital bill they consider at www.GetonBoardIL.org!