Safe, Reliable PublicTransportation
At the heart of public safety is access to safe, reliable public transportation. The current administration has not prioritized investing in infrastructure, making our streets safer, or maintaining CTA service levels, and the community has suffered. Ghost buses run rampant, security is lacking, schedules are inconsistent; these issues lead to a myriad of other problems. Over 25% of Chicago households don’t have cars, and it’s time we invest in the public transit and road infrastructure we need to support our city.
As State Representative, I lead the charge to get 20 percent of the state’s motor fuel tax increase dedicated to transit, 90 percent of which comes to Chicago. No one has successfully gotten that much funding for transit in years. Today, there are federal dollars on the table that should be used to innovate, not maintain the status quo. There are additional revenue sources to explore to make the CTA work for all of us. As Mayor, I will partner with the state and federal government to invest in the CTA and build it into the safe and reliable transportation system our city needs.
Under the current Mayor, the CTA has been put on the back burner. The CTA was without a Mayor-appointed chairman for nearly a year, one of the longest vacancies in history. On top of that, we haven’t changed the funding formulas for how money is directed to the CTA, Metra and PACE since 1983 under Mayor Harold Washington. Public transportation connects our 77 neighborhoods, drives our economy, and brings our communities together. It’s well past time that Chicago makes building world-class public transportation a top priority.
Invest In CTA
The CTA is in desperate need of fixing, and since the pandemic, safety and service issues have only gotten worse. When Covid hit, the CTA made a promise to Chicagoans that they wouldn’t change what they were doing and would maintain service levels. That promise has been broken, and anyone who rides the CTA knows it.
Post-pandemic, public transit worldwide is facing an existential crisis and the CTA continues to ignore it. It took the CTA too long to come up with a plan, and the “plan” that was recently rolled out has no accountability measures and no way to track its success. It’s more lip service by the current administration, and the people of Chicago deserve action.
By contrast, in Boston Mayor Wu has been thinking big in order to increase ridership: she’s made the most rider-heavy bus lines free for two years. This is the kind of bold action and investment in our future that Chicago needs.
This isn’t about making the CTA what it was pre-pandemic: it’s about making it better. Chicago is a world-class city, and it’s time we invest in a public transportation system that enables it. The CTA is a place where everyone comes together – the businesswoman commuting to The Loop work, the single mom dropping her son off for school in West Garfield Park, the doctor commuting to University of Chicago Hospital for his morning shift. It’s time we create a public transportation that services each and every Chicagoan. My plan sets the stage for a safe, reliable, affordable CTA that will support a growing and thriving Chicago.
- Bring in CTA Transit Ambassadors who are trained in de-escalation techniques and how to interact and assist people on trains and buses. Transit Ambassadors would be on hand to peaceably ensure safety for all riders.
- Connect CTA video cameras to security personnel reliably and efficiently; today, only some of the 32,000 cameras in the CTA system are equipped to relay footage in real-time. More regular information feeds will enable more rapid response support when it’s needed.
- Create a system to allow riders to text problems as they see them on a train, bus, or station so security personnel can see and respond in real time.
- Restore CTA rides as part of CPD’s beat; work with unions and workers to make sure they have a safe and supportive working environment.
- Improve bus service and frequency throughout the city and establish dedicated bus lanes for high-ridership corridors.
- Modify bus routes based on lessons learned and the long-delayed bus redesign study called for in the City’s 2019 New Transportation and Mobility Task Force.
- Better connect CTA to Metra, Pace, and other modes of transportation by implementing an integrated fare system that allows for riders to easily transfer between train, bus, and shared mobility options. Implement connections to CTA and Metra at key locations in the City, like those called for in the Union Station Master Plan and a new connected station in the West Loop.
- Accelerate accessibility improvements, including handicap accessibility, ramps, and elevators, at train stations and bus stations throughout the City.
- Institute fare capping so no rider pays more than the price of a monthly pass.
- Fully commit to equitable transit-oriented development that further prioritizes affordable housing while minimizing displacement. When we focused on Equitable Transit-Oriented Development (eTOD) in Chicago, we paid attention to everything but the Transit part.
- Expand innovative programs like the Cook County Fair Fares project, where Metra trains run more often, are more affordable and are better connected to CTA and Pace.
Built For The Future
- Complete the 5.3-mile, $2.3 billion Red Line extension, which would fill in what many of us have for years known as a “transit desert” on the South Side. While we do that, we need to address transit access issues with interim solutions like rideshares and vanpools to support communities while the infrastructure is built.
- Rebuild and expand the CTA Forest Park Blue Line branch as part of the larger reconstruction of the Eisenhower expressway and reconnect communities that were disconnected by the highway. Trains on 70% of this branch go slower than they’re designed to because of outdated rails.
- Electrify the CTA bus fleet, partnering with Pace to reduce costs and implement full electrification faster.
- Create a new Metra line that connects McCormick Place, Union Station, the West Loop and O’Hare – connecting massive job centers to neighborhoods and workers.
- Institute a city ordinance to create a capital transit infrastructure commission to set the course for Federal and State allocations for the next decade.
- Invest in new, high-quality bus and rail lines where new development and currently inequitable access merit them—while stopping wasteful projects.
- Expand reliable, accessible transit options on CTA for CPS and CCC students to go from their homes to their schools. Existing discounted fares do not go far enough.
Bike Safety Plan
- Build a protected & connected bike grid: The city should immediately begin to create a protected and connected bike lane network throughout the city. This requires hard barriers to prevent any more tragedies like the ones that occurred.
- Create a Bike Lane Integrity unit in CDOT: CDOT needs a bike lane integrity unit focused on upkeep, maintenance, debris and impediments as well as a way for residents to alert the unit of these impediments when they are identified.
- Commit to building a non-automobile infrastructure
Read more in my interview with Streetsblog.
Support The Plan
Support The Plan
Together, we can put Kam’s 4 Star Plan into immediate action.