Can you imagine what the Chicagoland area would look like if Metra, Pace and CTA all suddenly disappeared? Residents of cities across the eastern seaboard have been faced with a similar question about their public transportation in the wake of Hurricane Sandy's landfall on Monday.
Perhaps nowhere has the impact of public transportation service disruption been as significant as New York City and its metro region. According to the 2011 American Community Survey Estimates, over 50 percent of NYC workers use public transportation to get to work.
On Wednesday, limited service was restored on NYC buses, with further openings on Thursday, along with other restrictions put in place meant to curtail gridlock. One cannot ignore picture after picture and story after story that recount the massive problems facing those who tried to get to work on Wednesday. From all accounts, the city remained at a virtual standstill without adequate public transportation available.
While we don't use quite as much public transportation here in Chicagoland (26.8 percent in Chicago; 17.7 percent in Cook County), we could expect the impact of such a "public transportation armageddon" to bring about similar—if not worse—gridlock.
As noted in a recent blog post, every year seems to bring about threats (if not implementation) of more transit service cuts and fare increases. For public transportation to fulfill its promise, we must all recognize that public transportation use benefits everyone by getting cars off the streets and helping everyone get where they need to go in a safe and timely manner.
We need to continue to advocate for public transportation use (and biking and walking) as a benefit to everyone. It is crucial that we not increase impediments to users--including decreased service and higher fares--and instead we must work for more to be done to expand public transportation options and encourage public transportation use in the region.
Take action and tell your elected leaders it’s time to stop the cuts and invest in moving transit forward.