It wasn’t that long ago that Chicagoans cruised their city in Model Ts and delivered unchlorinated water to old-fashioned taps. But while the style of cars and water faucets has changed, the importance of solid, well-funded, strategic infrastructure to our world-class city has remained constant. That’s why we quantify the return on investment in public transit, educate municipal leaders on running their public water utilities, expand the benefits of transit-oriented development, and tap social media to build the case for investment in our region’s transportation infrastructure.
We know that public transit is more equitable than other transportation options, unlocking jobs across our region at an affordable fare. But how does public transit benefit employers? Plenty. That’s why in October MPC released Transit Means Business, a report outlining the economic argument for why the business community enthusiastically supports transit for talent retention, corporate sustainability, and more. The short story? A well-funded and robust transit system yields jobs, increased worker productivity, a strong and resilient real estate market, and better health outcomes. For the statistics and case studies of businesses like McDonald’s you won’t find anywhere else, we invite you to cruise our Transit Means Business report.
“MPC’s Transit Means Business report captured the value of public transit for keeping our region vibrant and economically vital. Trains and buses aren’t just for moving us around, but forward.”
—Kirk Dillard, Chairman, Regional Transportation Authority Chairman
Elected and community officials have a new tool to ensure high-quality drinking water now and into the future, thanks to the 2018 release of Drinking Water 1-2-3, our engaging how-to guidebook. The guidebook proved so popular and essential, we’ve run a second printing. If Drinking Water 1-2-3 is the textbook, in 2019, we’ll be hard-at-work on the course. Stay tuned to learn more about the Drinking Water 1-2-3 Academy, a peer-to-peer learning exchange and local technical assistance.
Number of public engagements, domestic and international, at which MPC staff presented in 2018
Transit-oriented development results in household cost savings, access to jobs, healthier humans, and vibrant streetscapes. But MPC analysis revealed that the City of Chicago’s 2013 transit-oriented development ordinance mostly benefitted areas already receiving investment: the North and Near West sides. All Chicagoans deserve the benefits of equitable development, so in 2018 MPC, the Mayor’s Office, and city departments laid the groundwork for expanding TOD incentives across our community, including selected high-ridership bus corridors. (Spoiler alert: in January 2019, the Chicago City Council used our input to pass an amendment to the 2015 ordinance, including an implementation plan that seeks to ensure that transit-oriented development yields equitable outcomes across all neighborhoods.)
“Our neighborhoods are changing quickly, and MPC has partnered with community organizations to plan along with and fight for affordability.”
—Juan Carlos Linares, LUCHA Executive Director and 2019 MPC Board of Governors member
Sometimes dialogue around infrastructure can feel dry. So we at MPC constantly experiment with creative forms of engaging people through the systems that underpin their lives. In 2018, this was #BustedCommute, a social media campaign inviting people to document their first-hand commuting encounters with Illinois’ crumbling transportation infrastructure. From highways, buses, trains and sidewalks, from underneath Metra bridges and flooded El stations, images started rolling in, and the #BustedCommute campaign was featured on WGN-TV, WBEZ’s “The Morning Shift,” Univision, John Greenfield’s Streetsblog and elsewhere. We published a photo album of #BustedCommute contributions that we’re using with legislators to advocate for sustainable revenue for our state's transportation network. In late 2018, we also developed a series of engaging webinars to help candidates for Chicago City Council understand the big issues that would shape their service—including transit, water supply, affordable housing, and pension reform.