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Public Transportation Thu Apr 30 2009

Illinois, Like Basically Every Other State, Won't Fund Its Public Transit

Here's the story: Governor Quinn originally promised to use some stimulus funds both on roads around Illinois and on city transit mainly in Chicago. Both could use some funding. A little while ago, Governor Quinn went back on his original promise saying that funding public transit wasn't quite possible and then committed the majority of the money to the roads instead.

Quinn's office is arguing that there are financial constraints from putting the money to fixing the CTA (does that make any sense to you because it's not supposed to). Greg Hinz has the details:

Mr. Quinn's spokeswoman says road work can begin right away because the state's road fund has existing revenue sources that can support $640 million appropriated for road projects. Mr. Quinn "believed it was critical to pass the Jump Start Capital Plan to get shovel-ready roads projects going in May so we can start putting people to work," she says.

But the transit work is different, according to the governor's office. It requires the Legislature to pass "revenue enhancements" to pay off the bonds, and that has not yet occurred, the spokeswoman says. The transit agencies can use the time to get their projects shovel ready, she says.

Notice the last part which I bolded and underlined. I did that because in actuality the transit agencies DO have shovel ready projects. Now, I accept that there are some things that I, a humble college student miles away from his Hyde Park, Chicago home, does not know that the Illinois Governor very well might. But Michael Madigan says Quinn is wrong too (quote from Hinz's story):

As the media caught on Quinn's office backtracked and said, basically, that the Governor has every intention of eventually putting much needed money into rails. I'm going to go out on a limb here and by bet that every intention means never.

Adam Doster at Progress Illinois points out that this is yet another example of how state governments are set up in a way that transit funding gets to city transit agencies the long way. It's not at all unusual. New York is having a very similar problem right now. What would make more sense would be if public transit funding went to the areas of a state where the public transit is used most (cities).

(Crossposted at Pensons.)


mike / May 1, 2009 10:04 PM

Illinois ... the place where Chicago's the engine and the dumbassed elected officials refuse to maintain it.

Rich / May 4, 2009 4:38 PM

I often think said officials (the collar-county and downstate ones anyway) cling to the hope of nurturing the suburbs into the role of economic engine for the state, so they can let the city die completely.

After all, that worked out so well for Michigan.

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