In the Loop: July 10, 2014 - Metropolitan Planning Council

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In the Loop: July 10, 2014

National Park Service.

Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson on a train.

In the Loop is your round-up of what’s going on in the transportation world, posted in conjunction with Talking Transit.

@metroplanners news

The Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) is hosting Governor Pat Quinn and businessman Bruce Rauner for MPC’s Annual Luncheon on August 28 at noon. At the event, the candidates will discuss their priorities on issues from housing to transportation to water resources. Neither candidate has yet published a transportation platform on their websites, so their insight in person will add significantly to our understanding of their goals for the State of Illinois.

Chris Hale, an MPC research assistant, conducted an in-depth study of jobs and commuting patterns in the city of Chicago. His work, detailed in a five-part blog series, begins with an overview of the mismatch between jobs and housing, continues with a look into where the region’s residents and workers are located and expounds on the regional implications of increases or decreases in jobs. Future posts will continue to be linked on the MPC blog.


The city of Chicago’s investments in improving its transit system continue to advance this summer. The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) revealed new public art planned to be installed in stations that were recently renovated along the south sections of the Red Line elevated. At a bigger scale, the CTA announced new contracts for the renovation and expansion of the Wilson and 95th Street Stations along the Red Line, which are expected to begin construction later this year.

In the Twin Cities, the Green Line light rail, which opened in June, is now carrying more than 32,000 riders a day. That means the line has already passed ridership estimates for 2015 (27,500 riders a day) and is well on the way to achieving the 2030 goal of 40,000 daily riders.

None of these investments would have been possible without the considerable support of the federal government, which is an important funding partner in most transportation capital projects in the U.S. This week marks the 50th anniversary of the Urban Mass Transportation Act, which was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson. In signing, Johnson noted that this law, which eventually led to the creation of today’s Federal Transit Authority, “Faces the realities of American life and attempts to put in motion a movement to do something about it.”

The original bill, which was written before the creation of the U.S. Department of Transportation (that did not come until 1967), emphasized the importance of transit in the daily lives of so many residents, and its conclusions still resonate today. The bill text includes the following reference:

The welfare and vitality of urban areas, the satisfactory movement of people and goods within such areas, and the effectiveness of housing, urban renewal, highway, and other federally aided programs are being jeopardized by the deterioration or inadequate provision of urban transportation facilities and services, the intensification of traffic congestion, and the lack of coordinated transportation and other development planning on a comprehensive and continuing basis.

Federal investments in transit have expanded over the years, and now represent about half of all spending for construction projects. According to the Congressional Budget Office, of total transit capital expenditures in 2007 (the most recent year available), 49 percent was provided by the federal government and 51 percent by state and local governments.


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