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Transit Law Suit — Can it help?
Yesterday, a class action lawsuit was filed claiming that the funding formula for transit in our region is so broken that it has a racist impact. This lawsuit and how it gets sorted out can have far reaching consequences as well as opportunities for our region. After all, the funding formula is inherently unfair to the core urban region.
From the CTA: “The current funding formula was established by the General Assembly in 1983. It determines funding levels based on geographic boundaries and retail spending rather than ridership, service provided or other transit performance criteria. Most fundamentally, it does not sufficiently fund transit services. Funding erosion has contributed to difficult budget decisions year after year…with each new budget year, it has been harder to find ways to reduce costs without impacting customers and service levels”.
The thing is, we’ve been talking and talking about this for years. Perhaps it will take a lawsuit to push changes, but it will take years for this work out if the case is even heard by the judge.
I’d also like to echo something the Metropolitan Planning Council said on their blog way back in 2005: “No funding formula should last 22 years without review. What might have been appropriate in 1983 isn’t necessarily what we need today. Good public policy would argue that any public funding formula should have a sunset clause so that it can be reviewed as circumstances and needs change. A new funding formula should be based on system performance measures such as number of trips, length of trips, safety goals, or population served, rather than the arbitrary geography of where the taxes have been collected.”
I’m excited to represent the Active Transportation Alliance as we work holistically to create livable communities. Funding is at the core of the improvements. I’ll watch this case carefully, not just for the legal implications but for what might result in terms of policy change.
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