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People walking are five times as likely to be killed by a driver traveling 30 mph as one going 20 mph.

Bus Fellows deliver budget request to City Council

Active Trans’ Bus Organizing Fellows, Rylen Clark and Jamaine Alberto Gooding, submitted comments to July’s Chicago City Council meeting. Jamaine was selected to provide oral comments before the full council while both Jamaine and Rylen submitted written comments.

You can read Jamaine’s comments in full here and Rylen’s comments in full here. Below are excerpts from their testimonies:

 

To Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the members of Chicago City Council,

My name is Rylen Clark. I am from Chicago and I have lived in the Chicagoland area for most of my life. I have extensive experience in peer-to-peer nonprofit organizations that primarily focus on at-risk youth at drop-in centers such as Center on Halsted and Broadway Youth Center in the Lakeview area.

I currently work at Active Transportation Alliance as a Bus Organizing Fellow. As a Bus Fellow, I have been collecting public input on how to make bus service work better for South and West Side community residents.

The speed and reliability of CTA buses in Chicago — an ever-present problem — has been amplified by COVID-19. Active Transportation Alliance is calling for rolling out 10 miles of bus lanes before the end of 2020 as part of the city’s COVID-19 response, as well as funding and construction 20 additional miles by the end of 2021.

We ask members of City Council to make bus lanes a priority for the city because they are instrumental in ensuring that bus trips are reliably able to connect folks to schooling, jobs, family, and healthcare.

Along with the reliability of bus service, which requires investment and action from you all, the next key to equity is affordability.

Active Trans would like to enact Fair Fares, making transit free for youth under 19 who qualify for free/reduced lunch, and reduced for low-income individuals. Around 20 percent of riders make less than $20,000 a year, which in turn requires them to spend 6 percent of their income on transportation. A 50 percent fare discount could potentially save someone $630 a year.

Busing to and from school is often not available and not all students attend schools nearest them. Charging youth and essentially adding another barrier to accessing education, after-school activities, doctors appointments, etc. is incredibly harmful.

With regards to safety on transit, CTA has a contract with the Chicago Police Department to patrol CTA at $10 million per year. There was a recent police shooting on CTA after the Mayor announced an increased police presence back in March. Police accountability is a slow and broken process, and the time has come when alternative methods of keeping transit riders and operators safe need to be discussed and implemented.

In conversations with community residents, I found that many people avoided public transit because of health and safety issues. Getting the conversation started not only prioritizes riders and drivers but makes transit a more enjoyable experience overall.

Working within the South and West Sides and acknowledging the disparity those communities face and implementing change to support them is the main goal of Active Transportation Alliance. We are hopeful that you, the Mayor and City Council, will address our calls for action and do everything in your power to make these changes.

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Take action now in support of 30 miles of bus lanes and masks for riders!  Please share this link with your networks: https://bit.ly/ChiTransitBudget

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To Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the members of Chicago City Council,

My name is Jamaine and I am from Brooklyn, New York. I moved to Chicago two years ago to pursue my M.A in Sustainable Urban Development at DePaul University. While at DePaul I was able to expand on my interests around community, economic, and transportation development. I learned about the history of urban planning in a city like Chicago and how intentional planning strategies can work in our city today.

As you all work to develop the 2021 Chicago budget, Active Transportation Alliance is advocating for creating 10 miles of bus lanes before the end of 2020. This should be part of a COVID-19 response to make essential workers’ commutes as safe, fast, and reliable as possible.

The data shows that primarily Black and Brown people on the West and South Sides are the ones who continued to take transit, specifically buses on the West and South Sides, during the height of the pandemic and are continuing through the phases of reopening. We need bus lanes now to keep people healthy and safe on their commutes.

The Mayor and City Council should work with Chicago Department of Transportation and Chicago Transit Authority to implement 10 miles of bus lanes before the end of 2020 and the fund the construction of 20 additional miles by end of 2021, as well as distribute masks to all transit riders. Universal mask wearing is the easiest and best way to ensure a safe environment for the hundreds of thousands of people still taking transit every single day.

CTA should expand upon the “Travel Healthy Kit” giveaway program and find ways to ensure every rider has a mask.

Thank you for your time and consideration of these transportation equity issues as you work to develop the 2021 Chicago budget and COVID-19 recovery planning.

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Take action now in support of 30 miles of bus lanes and masks for riders!  Please share this link with your networks: https://bit.ly/ChiTransitBudget