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Advocates call for a more equitable transit system


November 18, 2019

Media Contact:
Kyle Whitehead
Active Transportation Alliance
Managing Director of Public Affairs
(312) 216-0473


Yolanda Cruz lives in the Jeffrey Manor neighborhood on the Far South Side. She works part-time as a health aide in Hyde Park and buys a 7-day pass every week to get to work.

Yolanda knows the 7-day pass is more expensive in the long run than the monthly pass, but the upfront cost of the monthly pass is just too much for her.

“You can’t buy a monthly pass when you have to think about paying your bills,” said Yolanda.

Yolanda’s story, unfortunately, is not unique.

Stories like hers are at the core of our new campaign called Fair Fares Chicagoland, which seeks to make our regional transit system more equitable.

Today Active Trans is releasing its Fair Fares Chicagoland report detailing research and outlining policy recommendations.

Fair Fares Chicagoland key recommendations

  • Create a reduced fare program: Create a 50 percent reduced transit fare program for CTA, Pace, and Metra for residents of Cook, Lake, McHenry , DuPage, Will, Kane, and eventually Kendall counties living at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty line.
  • Implement fare-capping: A fare-capping policy prevents riders from spending more on multiple single ride passes than they would have if they had purchased a daily, weekly, or 30-day pass. This avoids penalizing residents who cannot pay upfront for a multi-day pass.
  • Integrate fare collection: Residents traveling farther away on transit for work often have to transfer between agencies. Fare integration ensures that CTA, Pace, Metra have a seamless, affordable system for transferring between each agency.
  • Decriminalize fare evasion: End criminalization of fare evasion on CTA, Pace, and Metra and provide alternatives of enrolling in the reduced fare program and community service hours.
  • Free fares for Chicago youth: Provide free fares for low-income Chicago youth year-round until the age of 19.

“The benefits of accessible, affordable public transportation cannot be ignored,” said Melody Geraci, Interim Executive Director of Active Transportation Alliance. “There’s a great need for even more public subsidies to provide equitable fares and increased service to combat some of the biggest issues facing society — from climate change to segregation and institutionalized racism and income inequality.”

Active Trans urges elected officials — including Mayor Lightfoot, Governor Pritzker, and the Illinois State legislature, transit agencies and boards, and county presidents — to take bold action for equitable transit in our region.

The report includes the results of a survey that was administered primarily in the South and West Sides, including in Englewood, Gage Park, and Little Village. Local canvassers helped to gather 654 survey responses from residents that highlight the transit needs of communities of color. Of the respondents, 441 have an annual income of $25,000 or less. Ninety percent of those respondents said they would more likely use trains or buses if the cost was lower.

In addition to survey data, Active Trans interviewed transit riders to capture their stories and to get a deeper sense of community perspectives on the affordability of transit. The report features their stories as well as case studies of other cities doing similar work, such as the Fair Fares NYC and ORCA Lift in Seattle. Cost estimates, proposals for how to pay for the recommendations, and implementation strategies are also featured.

As part of the overall effort, Active Trans is asking the general public to sign on to the Fair Fares campaign and voice their support for a more equitable transit system.



About the Active Transportation Alliance
The Active Transportation Alliance is a not-for-profit advocacy organization that promotes walking, bicycling, and public transit to create healthy, sustainable, and equitable communities. The organization works to build a movement around active transportation, encourage physical activity, increase safety, and build a world-class transportation network. The Active Transportation Alliance has more than 20,0000 members and supporters in the Chicago region. For more information about the Active Transportation Alliance, visit or call 312.427.3325.