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Only 0.7 percent of federal transportation funds are spent on improving pedestrian facilities.

Pace Suburban Bus commits to zero emissions by 2040

Our suburban transit system took an important step forward recently when Pace announced a commitment to zero emission vehicles by 2040 in its strategic plan. In making this commitment, Pace is joining CTA in planning to phase out diesel and compressed natural gas buses within 20 years.

This transition will help improve the air quality and health in countless suburban communities that rely on Pace to provide an affordable, sustainable transportation option for their residents.

Earlier drafts of the plan simply stated the agency would explore the feasibility of transitioning to electric vehicles.

The shift came after months of advocacy led by Sierra Club Illinois, Clean Power Lake County, and the Climate Reality Project. Active Trans and many other civic and environmental organizations joined these groups in a letter to the Pace board earlier this summer urging them to make a stronger commitment to this transition.

Thank you to the hundreds of Active Trans supporters who contacted their representatives on the Pace board about this issue.

Pace also announced a $10 million plan to pilot electric bus infrastructure and bus purchases in Waukegan beginning in 2022, with a commitment to spend $50 million on electric buses over the next five years and to fully electrify the Waukegan fleet by 2026.

Advocates like Clean Power Lake County pushed for communities like Waukegan — where environmental justice is major concern — to be prioritized for electric buses. It’s home to the Medline ethylene oxide facility, a coal-fired power plant, five different EPA superfund sites, and a diesel Pace bus garage.

Public transit is fundamentally a net positive for the environment. To meet our climate goals, we need more people riding buses and trains operated by Pace, CTA, and Metra.

Those vehicles also must be as clean as possible to limit further harm to the air quality and health of  our communities, particularly in the most polluted, highest-need areas.

Moving forward, we’ll keep pushing agencies like Pace to lead by example and electrify as quickly as possible to strengthen transit’s case as the core of a more sustainable transportation network in the Chicago region.