* Greg Hinz…
Providing public transportation services to people with disabilities and mobility-limited seniors has not been a priority in the Chicago area—and it shows.
Stripped of the niceties, that’s the bottom line of a report out today by the Metropolitan Planning Council that proposes a host of solutions to remedy the problem, from appointing a mobility czar of sorts to requiring ride-hailing services to better link their operations to Metra and other train operators.
“Nearly every person in the Chicago region, or someone they care for, will face a disability that will impact on their mobility at some point in their life,” says the report. Yes, despite long-standing federal law, “the experience of getting around using (Metra, the Chicago Transit Authority and other operators) ranges from fairly reliable and affordable to maddeningly frustrating and expensive.”
Some of MPC’s solutions will draw widespread nods from policymakers. Others, because of costs or political turf battles, may be a harder sell.
It’s a good story, so go read the rest.
* But this part of the study was pointed out to me by someone who works in this field…
The Rebuild Illinois capital funding bill passed in June 2019 includes significant new dedicated transportation revenues and enables counties to levy an additional motor fuel tax to raise transportation funds. Every effort should be made to ensure that new investments make the system more accessible.
Additionally, other established transportation funding mechanisms are being diverted away from transportation projects such as the 0.25% RTA sales tax in the collar counties. Due to a political compromise, RTA sales tax revenue can also be used for “public safety” purposes. Funds used in this way generally go toward capital projects for law enforcement or other emergency services. As shown below, some counties choose to spend none of the RTA sales tax revenue on transportation. Ending the diversion of transportation revenue already being collected would enable the provision of a minimum level of accessible demand-response service for all residents. Given the scale of revenue invested in transportation annually, counties should appropriate at least some of these funds to dedicated universal mobility programs.
According to the study, Kane County’s spends 75 percent of its RTA sales tax revenue of $18.5 million on transportation. Will County spends 93 percent of its $24.9 million on transportation. Lake County ($32 million) and McHenry County ($10.6 million) spend 100 percent of their RTA tax revenues on transportation.
But DuPage spends none of its $52 million in annual RTA tax receipts on transportation. Zero.