More than a year into development of the next regional transit strategic plan, the RTA is continuing to engage with new audiences about the future of transit in northeastern Illinois, and we want to hear from you.
During the summer and fall, RTA staff are visiting community events in all six counties to hear from riders about why they value transit and what they hope to see in the future. Hearing from transit-dependent communities of color, essential workers, and others who have been most reliant on public transit over the past few years is critical to creating a strategic plan that represents the region. Engaging with communities in this way is new for the RTA and one way that the agency is showing it is Committed to Change, one of the principles of the plan (along with Equity and Stewardship).
At an event in Waukegan, we heard how Metra connects the Lake County suburb to opportunities around the region and in Chicago and about the relationships many riders have with their Pace Suburban Bus drivers who take their children to and from school.
At Shop Roseland, an event highlighting business on the Far South Side, we heard about how issues like safety, cleanliness, and reliability are impacting riders’ perceptions of transit, but also how riding transit is a critical way residents get around.
At Bike the Drive, a recreational bike ride and fundraiser that allows cyclists on Lake Shore Drive, we heard about the connections that are necessary to create a truly multimodal transit system and how to create a system that is affordable and accessible for all.
In upcoming weeks, the RTA will be at the Joliet Latino Music and Food Festival on Saturday, September 17, and the Johnny Appleseed Festival and Craft Show in Crystal Lake on Saturday, September 24. Look for our table to share your thoughts on the future of transit.
Take a survey now
If you don’t have a chance to engage with us in person, you can weigh in via a survey, available online now, and tell the RTA about the value that public transit brings to you and your community. Hundreds of people have taken the survey so far with answers that include:
- “Transit is the best way forward into a future of greater equity, lower emissions, safer streets, and less congestion.”
- “Transit is freedom.”
- “Transit connects us all”
- “Transit is invaluable. It defined the region. We need to invest in more transit, more accessible, more innovative transit. Transit is one of the most integral components to Chicagoland’s economic engine.”
- “It is absolutely essential to Chicago’s past, present, and future. We will not thrive without continued investment in a stronger transit network.”
- “It’s essential to my mobility, I depend on it to get to work, see friends, visit family, and get around anywhere I need to go.”
- “A reliable transit system is what makes a city like Chicago feel vibrant. It allows people of all social-economic backgrounds to have access to the same things.”
Make sure your voice is heard!
The survey is also your opportunity to tell the RTA which items on its 2023 Agenda for Advocacy and Action are most urgent. The list was created after months of stakeholder engagement with our three Stakeholder Working Groups, who met between April and June 2022.
Advocacy items include longer-term, substantive changes to how our regional transit system works, and largely include changes that the RTA and Service Boards (CTA, Metra, and Pace) need support from other organizations, communities, and political leaders to accomplish, such as seeking new sustainable funding for transit or working with roadway agencies to prioritize transit-friendly streets. Action items have the potential to be more immediate. They may not be easy but will help address changing and unmet needs of riders and the communities we serve. These are things the RTA and Service Boards can take the lead to implement with the support of our stakeholders such as improvements to safety, accessibility, and affordability of transit.
A draft of the region’s next transit strategic plan will be released in December with plans for adoption in February 2023. The plan envisions “Safe, reliable, accessible public transportation that connects people to opportunity, advances equity, and combats climate change.” Three principles – Equity, Stewardship, and Commitment to Change – have guided the plan’s development, including the emphasis on inclusive engagement efforts in a way that is new for the RTA, but crucial to bring more voices to the table during this time of many challenges and opportunities for transit.
How to stay involved
If you are interested in having the RTA attend a meeting or event in your community to talk about the strategic plan, please contact us at email@example.com.