Entries tagged: Riders For Better Transit

Chicago Advocates Push New Transit Bill

imageLast September, Active Transportation Alliance launched a new campaign to preserve and improve the Chicago’s public transit system. Last week, the Riders for Transit initiative kicked into high gear with a full-court press for progressive state legislation.

On February 29th, the Chicago advocates mobilized nearly 30 volunteers for their Riders for Better Transit Day of Action. The volunteers passed out more than 6,000 fliers urging Chicago’s transit riders to support the Transit Fast Forward bill, a measure Active Trans worked to introduce in the state legislature.

Put simply, the Transit Fast Forward bill invests in faster, more reliable, more frequent and expanded transit service through a new, dedicated source of funding. According to Active Trans: “[The bill] would provide a new, dedicated source of funding for transit that will grow over time—generating 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 add an additional fraction of a penny per gallon dedicated to public transportation. The end result will be better commutes for drivers and transit riders alike.”

At a news conference last week, Active Trans’ Executive Director, Ron Burke, made clear that increased funding is critical. “A lot of us who ride transit are really more and more fed up with higher fares and worse service,’’ he said. “Unfortunately, transit has been derailed by chronic underfunding.’’

To build awareness and solicit support from transit riders, volunteers will continue to engage morning commuters and distribute fliers outside of major downtown Chicago train stops. “The next few weeks are critical for the Transit Fast Forward bill as we build support in the legislature,” Breen Conway, Active Transportation Alliance’s Transit Campaign Coordinator, said.

Read more about Riders for Better Transit’s plans here.

PHOTO by Grid Chicago: Active Trans’ Executive Director Ron Burke makes the case for new state legislation at last week’s press conference.

Active Trans Launches “Riders for Better Transit” Campaign

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The Active Transportation Alliance may be best known for supporting and promoting biking and walking in the greater Chicagoland region. But, last month, the advocates teamed up with the Natural Resource Defense Council to launch a new campaign that will unite and fight for transit riders.

With city officials facing tough budget decisions, Chicago transit agencies could see their funding slashed, and residents could be hit with service cuts and fare increases. Riders for Better Transit — the new initiative from Active Trans and the NRDC — is building a vocal constituency for increased investment and improved initiatives that serve riders’ needs.

“Transit reduces pollution, provides essential links to jobs and commerce, and offers an affordable transportation choice for Chicagoland residents,” Jennifer Henry of the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a press release last month. “We need to use transportation dollars wisely and reinvest in existing communities and infrastructure.”

The Riders for Better Transit campaign has a vision for how to spend those dollars wisely and invest in a world-class transit system, including bus rapid transit, modernized rail service and a more-passenger-friendly Union Station. The campaign is also pushing for a universal fare system, real-time transit information and “complete stations” that are inviting and safely accessible by walking, biking, and persons of all abilities.

And, perhaps most importantly, the campaign will fight to prevent further service cuts and fare increases as transit agencies prepare to finalize their 2012 budgets.

“Riders across the region know our system is plagued by slow zones, overcrowding and deteriorating stations, and every community has a laundry list of needs, from restoring bus service that’s been cut to increasing train frequencies,” added Ron Burke, Executive Director of Active Trans. “Our region can barely maintain our current transit service, much less make improvements riders need. The bottom line is transit in our region is significantly underfunded.”

Read more on the campaign website.