Posted on November 02, 2007 6:21 AM
Weekly Update, 11/2/07
NEWS ALERT: As of Friday afternoon, November 2, it appears that another temporary bailout has been agreed upon. We remain hopeful that a long-term solution can be found.
This week's blog entry is devoted solely to the impending mass transit meltdown. Without a last-minute deal in Springfield, residents across metropolitan Chicago will wake up Monday morning to a difficult commute as serious cuts hit the CTA, Metra, and Pace. As you'll read below, I'm disappointed that we've reached this point as a state and region.
My purpose in writing this is to describe the real hardships that will follow, and to point out that they're not limited to people who take a train or a bus. Click on the comment link to post your own opinions.
By the way, the following has been submitted as a letter to the editors of newspapers across the state (and that's partly why I kept it brief). We'll resume the usual format next week, but the current crisis dominates our thoughts for now. Hopefully, there will soon be a lasting solution.
On November 4, residents of metropolitan Chicago will suffer immeasurably if mass transit's doomsday arrives as anticipated. "Anticipated?" More like "dreaded," as this is the day most of us hoped was unthinkable.
Hard-working people whose livelihoods depend on public Transportation will lose pay due to unexcused absences and tardy arrivals when their trains and buses don't run. "Unexcused?" More like "inexcusable," as a failure of leadership has let these residents down in ways that harm all of us.
Kids will face hardships in getting to school. Some parents won't get home at a decent hour to spend time with their kids. And all of them will be paying more for less service on decaying equipment and infrastructure.
Other residents believe the transit mess doesn't affect them because they travel by car. Wrong. Their commutes will grow even longer, too, due to the influx of cars Transporting former mass-transit riders. The percentage of people's income spent on gasoline is about to rise, too. That cost is as real as any tax, but many times more destructive economically and environmentally.
For the region as a whole, this isn't just shooting ourselves in the foot -- it's cutting off the legs that get us to work each day. Leaders of the state and region must act decisively now to provide the stable funding that can put mass transit on solid ground. It is simply the right thing to do.
Randall S. Blankenhorn
Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP)
233 South Wacker Drive
Suite 800, Sears Tower
Chicago, IL 60606