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A meaningful editorial by RTA Chairman Kirk Dillard appeared in the Chicago Sun Times yesterday.  We thought you might like to read it, so we’ve inserted it below.

Good transportation system is critical to Chicago area

Kudos for stressing the importance of mass transit to our economy [“CTA looks to Chicago’s future by restoring two old bus lines,” Nov. 22]. Top-notch public transportation is a critical component of a city-centered living in Chicago and around our region and essential to our evolving regional economy. The CTA’s decision to pilot new bus routes on 31st Street and Lincoln Avenue is smart, future-oriented thinking tied directly to rider requests. This work keeps the “public” in public transportation. Your editorial gets it right: today’s CTA riders — young and old — expect a transportation eco-system, of which our public transportation system is the backbone.

And, as CTA President Dorval Carter pointed out in his subsequent letter, [“CTA’s normal state revenues are not a ‘bailout,’” Monday], roughly half of CTA’s funding is public funding allocated through a statutory formula; the remainder comes from fare boxes and other system-generated sources such as advertising. The CTA, Metra, Pace and the RTA are investing our limited funds wisely and working to provide customers with the safe and reliable transportation they deserve. Proudly, Chicagoland has the lowest operating cost per passenger mile of the systems in the country’s top 10 regions.

Most states and cities are investing more in mass transit, especially as increasingly our workforce is made up of the heavily mass transitreliant millennial generation. With the recent study that found that Chicago is home to the worst traffic bottleneck in the United States, it’s important to remember that it would take 29 additional lanes on our expressways to handle Metra’s daily riders. Last year, CTA “L” ridership was at an all-time high (the highest in 50 years), Metra saw its second highest ridership ever, and Pace continued to be one of the nation’s premier providers of transportation for people with disabilities and vital to suburban employers.

Where public transportation goes, community grows. Ride On!

Kirk Dillard, chairman, Regional Transportation Authority

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