Riders for Better Transit comments to Metra board

[flickr]photo:4553746144[/flickr]

This supports the article It’s fare increase time again at Metra.

Lee Crandell, a manager for the Riders for Better Transit campaign at the Active Transportation Alliance, spoke at both the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) and Metra board meetings this month. He published his comments to the CTA board and I’m posting his comments to the Metra board below (they’re nearly identical).

Thank you for the opportunity to speak today. My name is Lee Crandell and I manage the Riders for Better Transit initiative at the Active Transportation Alliance. We have 6,800 members across the Chicago region who support our mission to improve conditions for biking, walking and public transportation.

It’s become a Chicagoland tradition that every year around this time, transit riders cross their fingers and hope they won’t be hit with service cuts and fare increases. Unfortunately, it looks like the tradition will continue this year.

There are no winners when our transit agencies are forced to make these tough decisions. As you already know, the consequences of fare increases and service cuts would be far-reaching, impacting our mobility, our economy, our quality of life, our environment, the congestion on our streets. The impact on our daily lives would be very real, making everyday activities more difficult for people from all walks of life—from a child trying to get to school, a worker getting to their job, and a grandmother trying to visit her grandchildren.

As a world-class region, we deserve better. Our transit service should be improving and expanding, not slipping backwards.

Criticizing Metra in this situation is a normal reaction—and certainly on behalf of the riders we represent, we urge you to explore every possible efficiency to prevent fare hikes or service cuts—but ultimately, it’s our elected leaders who hold the purse strings and decide whether our transit agencies will have enough funding to make ends meet. Transit is significantly under-funded because our elected leaders at the local, state and federal levels have put it on the back-burner. And that means we, as transit riders and as voters, also bear some burden of responsibility. Riders for Better Transit will be asking our elected leaders to end the cycle of service cuts and fare increases by increasing investment in transit.

I’m here today to tell you that transit riders are ready to speak up, and we hope you will join us.

Please ask our elected leaders: how are you supposed to fulfill your duties as a Metra board member if they don’t adequately fund transit for our region?

Thank you.

Photo is of an outbound Metra Milwaukee Division North line leaving Glenview, Illinois. Photo by Eric Pancer.

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