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Transportation Funding

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Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
3:07pm
Mon May 4

Illinois Transportation Advocates: Rauner Budget Could Mean Major Fare Hikes, Service Cuts (VIDEO)

Illinois public transportation advocates are calling attention to the potentially "devastating" effects Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner's 2016 budget proposal could have on train and bus services across the state.

Spearheaded by the Midwest High Speed Rail Association, the coalition of advocates has launched a new campaign called "Grow Illinois Transit" to raise awareness about Rauner's proposed budget cuts to Amtrak, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), Metra, Pace and downstate bus services. Other organizations involved with the coalition include the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 308, the Illinois Environmental Council, Illinois PIRG and the Sierra Club's Illinois chapter.

Under Rauner's budget plan for the 2016 fiscal year, which beings July 1, the CTA, Metra and Pace could see their collective funding slashed by over $160 million. Amtrak faces a $16 million cut, which represents a 40 percent reduction in funding.

Speaking at a Chicago press conference Monday afternoon, transit advocates said Rauner's fiscal plan could result in significant fare hikes as well as bus and train services being reduced or eliminated altogether. 

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
1:59pm
Tue Sep 30, 2014

Public Interest Group Urges Against 'Wasteful Spending' On Illiana Expressway

An Illinois public interest organization is raising concerns about the proposed Illiana Expressway, saying the privatized toll road that would serve mainly as a trucking corridor "may charge tolls too high to attract trucks, and will likely require hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies."

The Illiana Expressway, a public-private partnership endeavor, is cited as one of 11 highway "boondoggles" across the country in a new report by the Illinois PIRG Education Fund, which is calling on "decision makers to reprioritize scarce transportation dollars to other projects."

The report highlights the proposed 47-mile Illiana tollway, which would connect I-55 in Illinois to I-65 in Indiana, as an example of "wasteful highway spending based on its outdated assumptions of ever-increasing driving."

"The Illiana Expressway is based on the presumption that traffic in the 18 county region affected by the road will increase by .92 percent annually between 2010 and 2040, as measured in total vehicle miles traveled (VMT)," the Illinois PIRG Education Fund noted. "However, that is more than double the annual rate of increase from 2001 and 2010 (.42 percent). And, since 2010, VMT in the region has been down .49 percent annually."

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
4:31pm
Mon Feb 10, 2014

Reports: Universities Lead In Transportation Strategies; Northeastern Illinois Suffers From Transit Deserts

American colleges and universities are leaders when it comes to creating new transportation models designed to reduce driving, according to a new report released by the Illinois Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) Education Fund.

But while it may be easier getting around various college campuses in Illinois without a car, that is not necessarily the case in other areas of the state, shows a seperate report submitted to the Northeastern Illinois Public Transit Task Force.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
3:52pm
Mon Jan 20, 2014

Report: More Chicagoans Turning To Public Transit, Biking As Driving Declines (UPDATED)

Fewer people in the Chicago "urbanized area" are driving, while more are biking and taking public transportation, a recent report from the Illinois PIRG Education Fund shows.

The national study examined the changing transportation trends in America's 100 largest urbanized areas, which are defined as regions larger than a city but smaller than a metropolitan area.

In the Chicago area, the number of workers commuting by car declined by 2.1 percent between 2000 and the years between 2007 to 2011, according to the report, which reviewed available data from the Federal Highway Administration, Federal Transit Administration and U.S. Census Bureau. (The “2007 to 2011” time period is in reference to the data collected by the 2011 American Community Survey, a five-year survey covering 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011). Meanwhile, Chicago households without a car increased by 1.1 percent from 2006 to 2011.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
11:39am
Wed Dec 4, 2013

RTA Far From Achieving "World-Class" Public Transit System, Experts Say

The Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) has a lot of work to do if the northeastern Illinois public transit network it oversees plans on becoming a "world-class system" anytime soon, panelists said at a discussion on the topic Tuesday at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC).

The RTA is the oversight agency for the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), Metra and Pace, covering Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will counties. The agency was created in 1974 and was reformed in 1983 and 2008.

Stephen Schlickman, who served as RTA's executive director from 2005 to 2010 and currently heads up UIC's Urban Transportation Center, said RTA's multi-agency structure "isn’t working as well as it should be." He noted that regional public transit systems in other U.S. metro areas are typically organized as one agency. The region's current transit structure has four governing boards, for the RTA, CTA, Metra and Pace, with 47 members.

"There is a serious lack of accountability when you have such a complex structure," he stressed. "We have complexities, not only in governance, but also in service overlap, in capital planning and programming, in the equities in the allocation of our finances. These topics defy public understanding."

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