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Did You Know?

Only 11 percent of Chicagoland residents ride transit to work.

Our journey towards better transit requires unity and action

As our region’s transit system faces unprecedented funding and service challenges, a powerful movement is underway, driven by the collective voices of those who know we deserve better service from our trains and buses.

Our recent gathering at the Transit is Essential Town Hall, held at the Mt. Carmel Baptist Church in the Douglas neighborhood, showed the transformative power of people connecting and sharing their stories.

It was a moment when about 90 individuals from diverse walks of life—students, commuters, parents, and seniors—came together to hear about one another’s personal experiences and the challenges they face with our current transit system.

The stories shared were poignant, painting vivid images of the struggles that come with unreliable public transportation.

 

 

From the high school student whose education is compromised by unpredictable buses, to the working parent whose daily life is a constant battle against delays, the narratives revealed a deep-seated love for our city, yet a profound frustration with a system teetering on the edge of failure.

The emotional weight of these testimonies was palpable, highlighting not just the inconvenience but the real human cost of a transit system that falls short.

Listening intently was a panel of community leaders: Andrea Reed, Deputy Director of the Greater Roseland Chamber of Commerce; 13th District Illinois State Senator Robert Peters; Standley Wu, a Lane Tech senior and member of the Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community; and Jacky Grimshaw, CNT Vice President of Government Affair.

“[The] trajectory of CTA alarms me,” said one life-long Chicago resident during public testimony at the event. “CTA is the least reliable it’s been in 10-20 years. There seems to be no meaningful plan to improve reliability.”

The consensus was clear: our transit system should uplift, not hinder, the lives of its riders. It should be reliable, safe, and accessible, reflecting the vibrant spirit of our communities.

 

“We want to attract people to public transit…. the only way we can do that is to make it faster,” said one Southside resident in their testimony. “To come here today would have been a 15-minute drive but it took over an hour on transit, and that’s not a way to attract riders.”

The call to action was powerful and inspiring. Senator Peters emphasized the critical role of grassroots movements in driving change, urging attendees to unite and advocate for a transit system that honors our needs and aspirations.

“You can’t expect politicians to do something without organized power,” he reminded us, highlighting the importance of collective action and community engagement.

As we move forward, the stories shared at the town hall will serve as the fuel for our campaign, a reminder of the stakes involved and the lives impacted.

These personal narratives are the heart and soul of our movement, a compelling call for us to mobilize on behalf of cleaner, more equitable transportation in the region. They remind us that together, we have the power to transform our transit system into one that serves all residents with dignity and respect.

We extend our deepest gratitude to our partners—CNT, Access Living, Transportation Equity Network, Equiticity, LVEJO, Metropolitan Planning Council, and Chicago Jobs with Justice—for their support in organizing the event.

To everyone who shared their story and to everyone lending their voice to this cause, we say thank you. Your courage and passion are a potent force.

Let us continue to stand together, to share our stories, and to work towards a future where our transit system reflects the best of who we are as a community.

Stay engaged, stay informed, and let’s harness the power of our collective voices to create lasting change. Together, we can build a transit system that is not just better, but the best it can be for all of Chicago.

 

With support from people like you, Active Transportation Alliance works to expand and improve our transit system. You can be part of the movement by joining Active Transportation Alliance, renewing your membership, or donating today

Photos by Andrew Collings.