Released Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Contact:
Ethan Spotts
Mobile 312.919.1423
Office 312.427.3325 x 287
ethan@activetrans.org

Giving transit riders in Chicagoland a stronger voice
New Riders for Better Transit campaign fights for funding and transit service improvements

Chicago, Aug. 24, 2011 -- As transit agencies prepare their budgets for next year, the riding public is bracing itself for another round of possible service cuts and fare increases.

To fight for the needs of transit riders, the Active Transportation Alliance launched Riders for Better Transit, a new initiative to organize transit riders in the Chicago region to demand better transit options.

Residents and community leaders can declare their support for better transit and learn more at www.ridersforbettertransit.org.

“Riders across the region know our system is plagued by slow zones, overcrowding and deteriorating stations, and every community has a laundry list of needs, from restoring bus service that’s been cut to increasing train frequencies,” said Ron Burke, Executive Director of Active Trans. “Our region can barely maintain our current transit service, much less make improvements riders need. The bottom line is transit in our region is significantly underfunded.”

While demand for transit in our region has been increasing for years, funding shortfalls and chronic disinvestment mean that transit agencies are having a harder time just making ends meet every year. In 2010, the CTA cut bus service by 19 percent and rail service by 9 percent in order to make ends meet.

“Transit reduces pollution, provides essential links to jobs and commerce, and offers an affordable transportation choice for Chicagoland residents,” said Jennifer Henry of the Natural Resources Defense Council, which is partnering with Active Trans on the new campaign. “We need to use transportation dollars wisely and reinvest in existing communities and infrastructure.”

Riders for Better Transit will support increased investment in transit, promote transit initiatives that will improve service, and keep transit agencies in touch with riders’ needs. For example, Riders for Better Transit will fight to prevent further service cuts and fare increases as transit agencies prepare to finalize their 2012 budgets. Riders for Better Transit is also encouraging the toll highway authority to incorporate new and improved transit service on tollways.

Many business and community leaders in our region already understand that transit is essential for our economy, health, environment and quality of life. These “Transit Champions” are standing with transit riders in support of better transit choices:

“We have long been concerned about how to ensure a clean, diverse natural environment. There is no question that public transportation is a critical factor in creating cleaner air and using fewer resources. Chicago is a world class city that deserves a world class transit system, so we are proud to support Riders for Better Transit.”

--Donna La Pietra and Bill Kurtis: TV journalists and civic leaders

“The benefits of public transit for Chicagoans are self-evident: less congestion, lower pollution, and more active and productive employees. Groupon encourages the use of public transit by providing a pre-tax fare benefit, and we are proud to be a Transit Champion in support of the Active Transportation Alliance’s Riders for Better Transit initiative.”

--Skip Schipper, Senior Vice President, Human Resources at Groupon

 

Riders for Better Transit is a project of the Active Transportation Alliance, in partnership with the Natural Resources Defense Council. Active Trans is a non-profit organization with more than 6,800 members who support our mission to improve conditions for biking, walking and transit in our region. For more information about the Active Transportation Alliance--North America’s largest transportation advocacy organization--visit www.activetrans.org or call 312.427.3325.

 

 

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