As Chicago area leaders debate how local groups should approach regional mass transit, a Chicago Tribune editorial in favor of shaking things up says changes would make mass transit more accessible:
The group’s 95-page report suggests measures to curb the sort of political meddling that led to the resignations of six Metra board members. It also makes a case that a streamlined organizational chart would reduce corruption simply by limiting the number of actors…
Our region’s three transit agencies waste tax dollars on lobbyists to compete with one another for more tax dollars for parochial priorities, instead of developing a consensus vision that would lead to more investment. From 2002 to 2012, consolidated transit systems serving Boston, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., have spent almost twice as much per resident on transit as Chicago has, the task force says.
Lack of coordination between the CTA, Metra and Pace means that riders whose commutes involve switching from bus to train or vice versa are stuck with long waits, poor connections and multiple fare systems. The task force says only 12 percent of suburbanites can get to work in less than 90 minutes via mass transit.
That last figure is important: mass transit is really a limited option in the Chicago suburbs. While there are still transit issues in Chicago itself (expanding L lines, building more bicycles paths and lanes), the issues in the broader region often get overlooked. Suburban job centers are not connected. The railroad lines run into the city, meaning commuters can’t make connections to other lines often until they are in Chicago’s Loop. If the region was still centered on lots of jobs in the Loop, this all might make sense. But, it hasn’t been this way for decades and the suburban mass transit options have not kept pace.