Amorita Falcon lives in south suburban Lansing and doesn’t have a car, so her commute to work in Chicago can take as long as three hours, one way. She has three different combinations of buses, trains, and walking that can get her there. The slowest option is also the cheapest, costing $5 per day, but eating up her free time as she must wait for delayed buses in Chicago’s winter weather or run to make a connection because the next bus may not come for a long time. The fastest option, which still takes an hour, is also the most expensive at $16 per day.
When Amorita describes the transit situation near her home and her daily commute to work, she uses words like “inequitable,” “draining,” and “deserted.”
“I’ve done a lot of cost-benefit analysis on all this,” said Amorita, who is a recent college graduate working at the Chicago Community Loan Fund. Her commute isn’t easy, but as she said, not everyone has the ability or desire to move closer to their job.
“That’s increased living expenses, that’s asking people to leave a network of family who might depend on them,” Amorita said. “Also if you don’t own a car, that probably means that you aren’t able to afford it and may not be able to afford to live closer to their job.” Amorita has a small group of commuters who she sees making the same long trek she makes every day.
She would like to see more frequent, reliable, and affordable options for people in parts of the region that are not currently well-served by the transit network. If the options were there, more people would ride, she said.
“It would be an incentive for those who do not have cars to use them. It would bring more commerce, more jobs,” she said.
And it would connect people in her community to those jobs. By 2050, Amorita said she hopes plans to lift up underserved communities have materialized.
“We need to lift these plans up off the paper and actually implement them because these communities have been overpromised for so long,” she said. “It’s equity, at the core.”