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Nearly five children are hit by people driving every day in Illinois while walking or biking within one block of a school.

Riders for Better Transit comments at CTA board meeting

At yesterday's CTA board meeting, Riders for Better Transit gave the following public comments:

/Thank you for the opportunity to speak today. My name is Lee Crandell and I manage the Riders for Better Transit initiative at the Active Transportation Alliance. We have 6,800 members in the Chicago region who support our mission to improve conditions for biking, walking and public transportation.

It's become a Chicago tradition that every year around this time, transit riders cross their fingers and hope they won’t be hit with service cuts and fare increases. Unfortunately, it looks like the tradition will continue this year.

There are no winners when our transit agencies are forced to make these tough decisions. As you already know, the consequences of service cuts and fare increases would be far-reaching, impacting our mobility, our economy, our quality of life, our environment, the congestion on our streets. The impact on our daily lives would be very real, making everyday activities more difficult for people from all walks of life—from a child trying to get to school, a worker getting to their job, and a grandmother trying to visit her grandchildren.

As a world-class region, we deserve better. Our transit service should be improving and expanding, not slipping backwards.

Criticizing the CTA or the unions in this situation is a normal reaction—and certainly on behalf of the riders we represent, we urge you to explore every possible efficiency to prevent service cuts and fare hikes—but ultimately, it's our elected leaders who hold the purse strings and decide whether our transit agencies will have enough funding to make ends meet. Transit is significantly under-funded because our elected leaders at the local, state and federal levels have put it on the back-burner. And that means we, as transit riders and as voters, also bear some burden of responsibility. Riders for Better Transit will be asking our elected leaders to end the cycle of service cuts and fare increases by increasing investment in transit.

I’m here today to tell you that transit riders are ready to speak up, and we hope you will join us.

Please ask our elected leaders, including those who appointed you: how are you supposed to fulfill your duties as a CTA board member if they don’t adequately fund transit for our region?

Thank you.

Update: On Friday, Oct. 14, Riders for Better Transit provided a similar testimoney at Metra's Board of Directors meeting, where the 2012 budget was proposed.