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Only 11 percent of Chicagoland residents ride transit to work.

Metra: We need a lot more money, but happy to share with the Illiana Expressway

Metra Interim Executive Director Don Orseno was remarkably contradictory in recent weeks about the transit agency’s priorities. In his own words from Metra's monthly passenger newsletter, On the Bi-Level, Oct. 2013:

“Perhaps the biggest challenge…is our need for more capital money…. Metra will need $9.7 billion over the next decade to achieve a state of good repair….and we expect to receive about a fourth of that amount.”  /

On whether to vote Yes or No to authorize the Illiana Expressway and to spend at least $80 million more money on it from a limited pot of state transportation funds: “Yes.”

Indeed, it was “Yes” votes by Metra and Pace at a recent transportation agency meeting that cleared the way for the $1 billion-plus Illiana Expressway, a proposed highway bypass in southern Will County, miles from all but a few transit routes.

Making the Illiana eligible for these limited funds was opposed by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning staff, the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times and others. The Illiana will leave even less transportation funding for transit repairs, the Red Line extension, modernization of Union Station, etc.

As a Metra rider and believer in the importance of good transit in our region, I'm truly disappointed in Metra and Pace. Read more about how Metra and Pace let transit down in our news release.