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About one-third of all work trips in Chicago are comprised of people biking, walking, or riding public transit.

State legislators introduce bill to transform Illinois transit 

Speaking at a press conference in the Great Hall of Chicago’s Union Station, Illinois State Senator Ram Villivalam and State Representative Eva-Dina Delgado unveiled a transformational package of legislation aimed at dramatically remaking how public transit is managed and funded in the state.

Chief among the proposed reforms is combining the existing four regional transit agencies (the Regional Transit Authority, the Chicago Transit Authority, Pace, and Metra) into a new consolidated Metropolitan Mobility Authority.

A companion appropriations bill would set aside a minimum of $1.5 billion each year from the State of Illinois in additional operating funds for Illinois transit agencies.

“Sustainable public transportation supports livable, walkable communities, enables equitable and affordable access to opportunities, underpins a vibrant economy, and improves public health,” said Sen. Villivalam. “We need to have a robust conversation and make major strides to achieve the regional transit system our constituents deserve, one that is integrated, and commuter-centered. As fiscal pressures bear down on us, now is the time to plan for the public transit system for the year 2050.”

The proposed bill would reshape the power landscape behind transit decision-making by reorganizing how regional transit board members are appointed and eliminating the current dynamic where separate agencies are competing against one another for the same resources, like federal grant opportunities.

The transit legislation is part of a broader push, called the Clean and Equitable Transportation Act (CETA), to address the climate impact of the state’s transportation system. CETA also includes elements that will force the state to account for greenhouse gas emissions when building new transportation projects like roadways and new measures to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles.

Given the scale of the proposed changes, legislators will likely be debating and refining the package into the next legislative session.

This summer Active Transportation Alliance will be mobilizing our members and supporters to connect directly with their members of the Illinois General Assembly to showcase support for CETA and taking action on sustainable transportation.

 

Photo above shows Sen. Villivalam and Rep. Delgado.