Did You Know?

While the Chicago region’s population grew by 18 percent since 1980, the traffic increased by 66 percent in the same period.

Underfunded Metra forced to raise fares

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Last week, Metra unveiled its rail line improvement plans for the next ten years – and it’s not going to be cheap.

Metra, the second largest commuter rail line in the country, plans to replace and restore old passenger cars and locomotives, and install Positive Train Control (PTC) on all trains.

PTC is a system that forces train compliance to speed limits and can automatically stop rail cars. Our outdated commuter rail system desperately needs these upgrades to ensure a reliable and safe regional public transportation system.

About 16 percent of the $2.4 billion cost of the improvement plan will be passed on to Metra riders through fare increases. Raising fares is never a good thing, but under the current funding structure the cash-strapped agency’s options are limited.

Metra deserves credit for taking action and developing a plan to replace and restore old passenger cars and locomotives, but these fare increases are further proof we need to change how we fund public transit regionally.

With young people driving less, the need for an improved transit network will only be heightened in coming years. According to a recent report by the Illinois Public Interest Research Group, Millennials are veering away from cars.

From 2006 to 2013, the share of people commuting by car between the ages of 16 and 24 fell by 1.5 percent, while this age group’s share increased in active transportation modes, like biking, walking and public transit.

Young people are sick of sitting in traffic and they are more and more attracted to cities with an extensive public transportation network. In order to remain competitive and attract new businesses and a creative workforce, Chicagoland needs to prioritize public transportation.

Our Transit Future campaign addresses these issues by establishing a dedicated revenue stream to build and expand the transportation network in Chicago and surrounding suburbs.

Sign our petition to support increased investment in transit and fill out this brief survey if you’re interested in volunteering to help organize transit supporters in your neighborhood.

This blog post was contributed by Sydney Prusak, an Active Trans advocacy intern.