As students of University of Illinois at Chicago, the cities’ only state university, we are uniquely aware of the benefits that safe, efficient, and accessible public transportation provides as we make it too and from campus. Daily, over 76% of UIC students get to campus using public transportation and any cuts that would reduce service, reliability, and safety of the trains and buses that service UIC, would negatively impact our education and quality of life.
As one of the largest research institutions in the state, and an economic engine in the West Loop, cutting funds that allow students of all means to access a superb public education will impact Chicago and Illinois’ competitive economic advantage.
A recent article by the Chicago Tribune (Public transit advocates protest proposed federal cuts, 9-20-11) highlights the proposed cuts that threaten the ability for the undersigned to access campus and thus continue our education without significant constraints on our budgets and quality of life.
According to the article, the cuts “would exceed $210 million and 7,570 jobs lost in the first year of the cuts, growing to more than $1 billion in lost funding and more than 36,000 jobs lost over six years.” The CTA and Metra are already weighing potential fare increases and service cuts, and the withdrawal of federal funding will only exasperate the system’s challenges.
We support maintaining full federal aid for mass transit and increasing the investment over the long term. We need new, transformational legislation that can bring America’s transportation system into the 21st Century. According to Joseph Costello, executive director of the Regional Transportation Authority, the currently existing transit system would cost $42 billion to rebuild from scratch. This is an invaluable asset to the region’s economy, and on a personal level allows us to access campus by not using cars, thus reducing congestion and pollution in Chicago.
We know that if we fight for a bold new direction, we can create millions of jobs, help free America from oil dependence, and build a transportation infrastructure that's safer, faster, cleaner, and smarter. We urge you to be a leader in moving a new federal transportation bill forward swiftly and fighting against the proposed shortsighted cuts. There is already bi-partisan support for increased transportation funding and we’re counting on you to make sure we invest to rebuild the crumbling EL and the roads and bridges that service CTA buses.
We look forward to your leadership on this critical issue.