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Although people of color make up about one third of the population, they make up 46.1 percent of pedestrian deaths.

Summit explores key topics in local public transportation

Thanks to all of you who joined us on Monday for the Riders for Better Transit Summit: Building a 21st Century Transit System. The event was a huge success! We had over 120 attendees, including elected officials, local transit agencies, transportation professionals and, of course, our members!/

In case you missed it, the event featured 11 great presenters who spoke about why transit is important, the kind of difficulties it’s facing in our region today and how we can look at transit governance and transit funding for solutions to move transit forward.

Carol Coletta, urban policy expert and commentator, started the event off with an important question: What kind of transit will we leave to our children? Active Trans Executive Director Ron Burke also helped set the stage for discussion by laying out some of the problems that transit in our region is facing, and Scott Bernstein of the Center for Neighborhood Technology gave us a vision for the future of transit in our region.

/The event featured two panels, one on transportation governance and one on transportation funding. Steve Schlickman, executive director of UIC’s Urban Transportation Center facilitated the panel on transit governance where John Gates, board chairman of the RTA, Frank Beal of Metropolis Strategies and Dan Cronin, chairman of DuPage County, weighed in on the strengths and weaknesses of the RTA.

The topic is a timely one since Metropolis Strategies has announced their support for state legislation that would drastically change the RTA by combining its functions with the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning. The panelists discussed this option as well as what responsibilities the RTA has to growing suburban areas like DuPage County, which contributes significantly to the funding for our system and is interested in more transit.

In our second panel, Jacky Grimshaw, also of CNT, lead a discussion about where we can look for new sources of funding for transit. With many transit agencies facing a shortage of funds, and less and less help coming from the federal government for new transit projects, it’s clear that transit in the Chicago region needs new investment./

Randy Blankenhorn of CMAP, Peter Skosey from MPC and Transportation for America’s Georgia Gann shared new ideas about where to look for this much needed revenue. Some of the ideas included revisiting the current gas tax and exploring congestion mitigation pricing, as well as ideas like expanding the sales tax base to services.

Thank you to all of our speakers for sharing your expertise with us! And thank those of you who attended for your positive feedback. Check out what others are saying about the event in this story on   

Interested in some of the information presented at the summit? The slides from the event can be found here.