Chicagoland residents prefer more spending on mass transit

A new poll from the Chicago Tribune and WGN shows that more suburbanites would prefer to spend money on mass transit than on highways and roads. According to the poll:

Fifty-two percent of suburbanites said they agree with investing more of limited government resources in public transit, versus 32 percent who chose improvements to highways and toll roads. In a 1999 Tribune poll, 34 percent of suburban residents said more money should be spent on mass transit than on roads.

Even in the collar counties, half said public transit deserves a higher priority in spending decisions.

These are some surprising figures as suburbanites typically prefer road spending in their auto-dependent lives. How exactly this increased mass transit spending might happen is less clear with the state of Illinois facing a major budget crisis.

One citizen interviewed for the story mentioned adding “an around-Chicago rail line.” This would help improve rail service to the suburbs as the current Metra system is a hub-and-spoke model where travelers have to go into Chicago before heading back out. A plan for this has been in the works for a long time as the Star Line would use the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern right-of-way (just recently bought by Canadian National) to connect Joliet and O’Hare while crossing a number of Metra spoke lines. Read more about the Star Line here.