Even before Chicago’s Shelter-in-Place order took effect on March 21, regional transit agencies had begun seeing steep ridership declines. With the transit system facing challenges on the fiscal, human resources, and safety fronts, it is crucial for agencies to have informed strategies for how they can move forward from the COVID-19 pandemic.

To inform this process in Chicagoland, the Active Transportation Alliance, SUMC, and a group of other advocacy and civic organizations collaborated in a letter urging the governing boards of the region’s transit agencies to prioritize racial equity and include riders and residents in the decision-making process for COVID-19 response and recovery.

“Transit is a public good that is essential to sustaining and reviving our regional economy – even if far fewer people are riding,” reads the letter. It is crucial for “low-income, often minority residents to get around on a daily basis.”

The letter, sent on April 15th to the boards of RTA, CTA, Metra and Pace, outlines supportive measures to establish an “equitable, clear, and transparent process” to engage both stakeholders and the public, and underscores that the transit system can be a driver of health and economic resilience.

The priorities outlined include maintaining critical mass transit routes, protecting frontline transit workers (many of whom are people of color being hit hard by COVID-19), applying a racial equity lens and providing transparency on stimulus spending, establishing robust community engagement principles, prioritizing the safety of riders and improving communications, sharing data publicly, and optimizing debt policies across agencies.

Read the letter here.

Signees Include:

Center for Neighborhood Technology https://www.cnt.org/

Elevated Chicago http://www.elevatedchicago.org/

Illinois Environmental Council https://ilenviro.org/

Metropolitan Planning Council https://www.metroplanning.org/index.html

Respiratory Health Association https://resphealth.org/

Shared-Use Mobility Center https://sharedusemobilitycenter.org/

Sierra Club of Illinois https://www.sierraclub.org/illinois