Lake County Motorist

Suburban Chicagoland commuter and motorist weblog

Trouble at intersection of funding and safety

The Chicago Tribune’s Jon Hilkevitch posted an update to his March story about the lack of safe, non-motorized ways for suburban children to get to school. According to the May 18 article, the U.S. government has already issued $8.3 million in funding to Illinois for the Safe Routes to School initiative, but the project has stalled. The article raises questions about the importance of transportation initiatives in Illinois.

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Filed under: Urban Planning, , ,

A better way to get to school

On March 6, Gov. Blagojevich announced the Safe Routes to School program. The program is “designed to encourage walking and biking; promoting a healthier, more active lifestyle for children in grades K-8”.

The announcement came on the heels of a Chicago Tribune article by Jon Hilkevich highlighting the side effects of unsafe walking routes to school in the suburbs. Some suburban schoolchildren are being bused distances as short as a few blocks, due to a lack of safe pedestrian crossings at busy roads.

What options do children and parents have to ensure safe passage between home and school? Here are three that come to mind:

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Filed under: Urban Planning, , , , , ,

Transit "doomsday" averted, and I can prove it

While every major Chicago news outlet declared the RTA funding crisis resolved last night, I held back. My reason was simple: The deed wasn’t fully “done”.  Although the legislature passed the funding bill on Thursday, Blagojevich still had to certify the bill today for it to become law.

Some thought it was unlikely that Blago would reject the bill at this point – especially since today was the last business day until Doomsday – but I didn’t think anything was impossible. I didn’t think he’d pull the “free rides for seniors” stunt last week either.

But here it is: Confirmation of Blago’s certification of the bill on January 18, making House Bill 656 a law. Process completed, deed done, and it’s for real this time. Your Metra train, Pace shuttle bug and CTA bus will be in their usual places come Monday morning.

I do find this passage funny, especially since it isn’t true (boldface emphasis is mine):

With a long-term funding plan in place, the Chicago area transit agencies have said they will not cut services, raise fares or lay-off workers on January 20, as planned.

Last I checked, Metra is a “Chicago area transit agency.” Someone really should let them know that they said they won’t raise fares. Maybe it should be the guy who said he wouldn’t raise taxes.

And finally, this vague November 2007 statement from Metra:

If a transit-funding package comes out of Springfield in the coming weeks, the 2008 proposed Metra budget would be revised to reflect additional dollars.

If you make your statement vague enough, it will be hard for someone to say you didn’t keep your promise because it isn’t quite clear what you promised. Metra could place a unicorn in every train car and it wouldn’t be a violation of  “budget….revised to reflect additional dollars.” Just ensure there’s enough money to keep cleaning those trains, OK?

Filed under: Mass Transit, , , , , ,

So are we “doomed” or not?

RTA Doomsday ’08 is six days away, and here’s where we are so far:

Metra is still going to raise fares by 10%.

Governor Blagojevich wants a provisions so that senior citizens can ride public transit for free. He’s now added a provision that the disabled have to ride for free too. If this passes, somebody will have to pay for these “free” rides, which could mean a fare increase for everybody else. What’s with all of the, ahem, roadblocks to passage of a transit funding bill? What next?

Stay tuned on Monday to see what, if any, progress is made towards resolution of this funding debacle.

Filed under: Mass Transit, , , ,

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