Transit reform really just transit features


Riders on this bus will have access to new, to the region, features that make taking transit more convenient and pleasurable. Photo by Eric Pancer.

Governor Quinn’s office issued a press release last Thursday calling House Bill 3597 “major transit reform legislation.”

What he signed into law today was not reform, but a package of new, “cool” features that the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), Metra, and Pace – collectively called the service boards – are now required by law to implement.

This post is a summary of the legislation he signed today. Analysis of the universal fare system will be published later on Grid.

First, what is a fixed-route service? You’ll see this term in many of the feature descriptions. It’s basically any route that’s not a shuttle bus, unscheduled service, or paratransit service. The 52/California bus is a fixed route service, as is the Pace 888 Tri-State Flyer, and Metra’s UP-West train 26 to Ogilvie Transportation Center.

New transit features

  • Transfer fares
    The RTA and three service boards must develop a transfer fare policy (including how to share fares between agencies) for passengers who pass between fixed-route services amongst the agencies.
    Deadline: January 1, 2013
  • Regional fare payment
    The RTA must develop a regional fare payment system (“universal fare” system) that allows passengers to pay with contactless credit cards, debit cards, and prepaid cards for all fixed-route services. Beginning in 2012, the RTA must report to the Governor the developmental progress of this program.
    Deadline: January 1, 2015.
  • Transit trackers
    All service boards must provide transit trackers on the web (CTA already does this for its buses and now trains). Note that the legislation does not require them to make public APIs or data feeds for arrival information.
    Deadline: July 1, 2012.
  • Wi-fi feasibility
    The RTA must investigate and report to the Governor and General Assembly the feasibility of providing wireless internet on all fixed-route services. The Act didn’t specify how the RTA and service boards would charge for this service.
    Deadline: January 1, 2012.
  • Wi-fi on Metra
    Metra must provide wi-fi on all trains, if it can be provided at no cost to Metra. The Act didn’t specify how Metra would charge for this service.
    Deadline: January 1, 2012.
  • AEDs on Metra
    Metra must study the installation and use of automated external defibrillators (AED) on its trains.
    Deadline: July 7, 2012.


If it can be done at no cost to Metra, all of these trains will soon offer their passengers wireless internet. Photo by Ron Zack.

17 thoughts on “Transit reform really just transit features”

  1. Why would Metra, but not CTA, be required to study the AEDs? It also seemed odd/redundant that wi-fi was specifically called out for both RTA and Metra.

    1. RTA must figure out feasibility of providing wi-fi.
      Metra must provide it.

      Perhaps the legislators who crafted this legislation thought that access to medical attention was more likely on short-distance CTA trips that make a stop every 2-5 minutes.

      I’m still trying to figure out if the transit agencies and RTA were consulted in this legislation.

    1. With wifi on Metra trains, the clicking and tapping of laptop keys may be another noise factor banned from the quiet cars. Ha, actually, wifi will be great in attracting new passengers to ride Metra, or it will encourage existing passengers to perhaps ride more often.

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