Leaders Call for Transit Investment at “Get on Board Day” Event
April 25, 2019
CHICAGO – The Regional Transportation Authority (RTA), Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), Metra, Pace and Amtrak today joined mass transit districts across Illinois for a Get on Board Day event at Chicago’s Union Station. Speakers including representatives from local entities and local and statewide leaders expressed their strong support for long-term, consistent funding of Illinois’ public transportation systems. 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.
“As chairman of the RTA and a lifelong transit rider, I know firsthand the importance of transit to our region and state,” said RTA Chairman Kirk Dillard. “And as a former state senator, I appreciate the multitude of issues facing our statewide elected officials. But, as today’s speakers show, public transportation affects all of us, and its funding is critical to our regional and statewide economy.”
“I am a mayor who each day faces the challenge of how to grow and support our local economy,” said Moline Mayor Stephanie Acri. “I’m here to say transit funding is not just an issue in the Chicago region. The ‘Get on Board Day’ message resonates throughout all 57,000 square miles of our state, as we all benefit from transit, whether we ride or not.”
Rafael Carreira, Executive Vice President of Riverside Investment & Development, stated that companies considering whether to lease space or develop land in the region see proximity to transit as a primary concern. “I know that one of the reasons companies come to our area is access to transit. They rely on the system to bring a high-caliber workforce and customers to their offices each day. Transit literally means jobs for our region,” said Mr. Carreira.
The Chicago area is home to nearly 50 four-year colleges, with dozens more community colleges and other technical or specialized schools. Cynthia Klein-Banai, Ph.D. is the Associate Chancellor for Sustainability at University of Illinois at Chicago. “Access to transit for students, faculty and staff is essential for urban educational institutions,” said Ms. Klein-Banai. “Our community relies on a robust and reliable public transit system to allow our students to attend classes, earn a degree and move on to be leaders in our region and our state.”
“We value our city-based workforce and are committed to doing all we can to facilitate use of public transportation in our employees’ commutes,” said Matthew Goebel, Director of Public Affairs at AbbVie, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company based in North Chicago. “AbbVie worked with Metra to create additional reverse commute lines. This partnership is a win-win as it lets employees who live in the City take transit to work, making their commute manageable and less stressful.”
“Accessibility in our transit system is very important,” said Karen Tamley, Chicago’s Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of People with Disabilities. “Capital investment is necessary to continue to rebuild and modernize aging infrastructure to increase accessibility. We must assure riders with disabilities are able to use an accessible fixed route system and that there enough vehicles to serve the ADA paratransit community. These transportation options are critical to guaranteeing riders with disabilities can get to jobs, see family and live independently throughout our region.”
“In addition to providing convenient, equitable and affordable transit services to the region, CTA and its partner agencies play a vital role in our state’s continuing economic growth,” said CTA President Dorval R. Carter, Jr. “The passage of a state infrastructure bill is critical for Illinois transit agencies to continue implementing the kinds of large, multi-year projects that stimulate the economy, create stable, good-paying jobs for residents and prepare our region for the demands of the future.”
“Ever since RTA adopted the regional transit strategic plan, Invest in Transit, riders and stakeholders have asked us what they can do to support state funding for public transportation,” said Leanne Redden, RTA Executive Director. “To that end, we created the GetonBoardIL.org website, which riders can visit to send emails and tweets to their statewide elected officials in support of transit funding.”
Redden was also joined at the event by Metra CEO/Executive Director Jim Derwinski and Pace Executive Director Rocky Donahue.
The Illinois campaign is part of National Get on Board Day, sponsored by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), which encourages people to support public transportation by showcasing its benefits to communities and the economy. In 2017, Americans took 10.1 billion trips on public transportation.