About Riders for Better Transit

Transit riders know our system is plagued by slow zones, overcrowded trains and buses and long waits at stations that are dirty and in need of repairs.

While demand for transit in our region has been increasing for years, our transit agencies are facing more difficulties making ends meet every year.

The Active Transportation Alliance launched Riders for Better Transit to organize transit riders in the Chicago region so they can fight for better service.

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. Riders can count on Active Trans to support policies that increase investment in transit, explore transit initiatives that will improve service and keep transit agencies in touch with riders’ needs.

Our region deserves a world class transit system

Unfortunately, our 100-year-old transit system is showing its age. Chicagoland deserves a 21st century transit system. It’s time to enhance transit service to better meet the needs of our growing population.

  • Bring Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) to Chicagoland: What if the bus was more like the train? Imagine if it never got stuck in traffic, didn’t have to wait for green lights and all passengers boarded quickly without fiddling with change. We support enhancing bus service in the city and the suburbs as a great strategy to offer Chicagoland transit riders faster, more reliable and more convenient options region wide.
  • Complete modernization of CTA’s Red Line: Chicago’s Red Line is the backbone of our transit system, boasting the highest ridership of any train line in the region. Stations and tracks on the North Side are in dire need of repair, while the South Side contends with slow zones and has areas that lack rail service altogether. We support modernizing and repairing the entire line, including an extension south to 130th Street.
  • Modernize Union Station: Union Station is a congested hub of Amtrak trains, Metra commuter rail and local and intercity buses, serving more than 140,000 people on an average workday. Suburban transit riders use it as much as city riders, and it’s the first impression of Chicago for many of our city’s visitors. We support plans to improve the passenger experience at the station and address transit connection and capacity issues. 

Our transit system needs investment

Our region’s transit system is significantly underfunded. Both at the state and national level our legislators have put transit on the back-burner. So instead of repairing and enhancing transit in our region, resources are diverted to just keeping it operating as best we can.

Current funding isn’t even enough to operate the system we have; in 2010 the CTA cut bus service by 19 percent and rail service by 9 percent in order to make ends meet. Let’s show our elected leaders that transit deserves to better support through these and other innovative funding options.

  • Flex state motor fuel funds for transit: Right now, revenue from Illinois’ state motor fuel tax is targeted to roadway projects benefiting motor vehicles. Both state and local governments should have the power to “flex” this money and determine where the funds would be most useful—including infrastructure improvements for transit, walking and biking in their communities.
  • Increase the state motor fuel tax with a portion devoted to transit: When leaders of metropolitan Chicago's seven counties unanimously adopted the GO TO 2040 regional plan, improving transit was a major focus. Our elected officials should follow through on that promise. As recommended in the GO TO 2040 plan, we support increasing the Illinois Motor Fuel Tax by 8 cents per gallon with a portion of the revenues set aside for transit.
  • Flex federal transportation dollars for transit: The federal government also collects a gas tax to fund transportation projects. When Illinois receives its share of this tax, a higher percentage of the money could be spent on transit. We would like Illinois Governor Quinn, our legislators, and local governments to show they mean business about transit by “flexing” more federal dollars to transit projects.
  • Fund transit in tollway corridors. Transit will be an essential part of maintaining transportation capacity in our tollway corridors. In order to improve mobility and manage capacity, the Illinois Tollway should invest in expanded transit options in tollway corridors where it would benefit tollway users and transit riders alike.

Our transit system should be responsive to riders’ needs

Sometimes small issues of comfort and convenience can make a big impact on riders’ experience. We’re here to remind the transit agencies and other decision-makers that these issues are important to riders and should be acted on quickly.

  • Create a universal fare system now: Riders want to be able to transfer seamlessly between the CTA, Metra and Pace. A single system of payment and coordinated transfers could save riders time and money, so that switching to CTA after coming into the city via Metra is a user-friendly experience. We would like our transit agencies to work together on this to make the smoothest transition for all riders as soon as possible.
  • Provide real-time transit information: Riders want to know when the next train or bus is coming. Bus Tracker and Train Tracker have been a big hit with CTA and Pace riders, making transit more predictable and less stressful. We would like to see to-the-minute arrival times available online for all trains and buses in the region, as well as permanent signs at bus stops and train stations that show when the next ride is arriving.
  • “Complete stations”: Transit riders in the city and the suburbs deserve train and bus stops that are well-maintained, inviting and safely accessible by walking, biking, and persons of all abilities.


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