What the next mayor can — and should — do for public transportation

A CTA Blue Line train travels westbound in Oak Park toward the Harlem station last October.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times

The next mayor of Chicago will have to quickly roll up his sleeves to get public transportation back on track.

The CTA, the Metra rail system and the Pace suburban bus system together will face a $730 million budget gap when federal pandemic money runs out. Labor, inflation and fuel prices are severely driving up costs, but ridership is not close to returning to pre-pandemic levels. Service cuts would have to be drastic if that is the only tool used to close the gap.

”The mayor in the next term is going to have the biggest [transit] financial crisis ever experienced and will have to be very involved politically in finding solutions,” said Stephen Schlickman, an assistant professor at the University of Illinois Chicago who teaches a course on the funding of transportation.



Here are some of the things transit experts tell us must be on the new mayor’s to-do list.

A push for more cops on the CTA. Crime is up on the CTA, which is driving away some riders, and with fewer riders on the system, those who do ride feel less safe. If remaining riders drift away, the CTA could be caught in a downward spiral.
Helping to lobby to lower or get rid of the systemwide requirement that the CTA, Metra and Pace together generally cover …read more

Source:: Chicago Sun Times

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