Transportation - Metropolitan Planning Council

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Rethinking investment policies, planning for the region’s future

Devin Westhause

The Chicago region needs to fully invest in and innovate its infrastructure so our economy can grow and we can remain globally competitive.


In early June 2019, Illinois passed a major package of legislation to support capital infrastructure investment. This will mean that over the next six years, an additional $20 billion will be invested in roads, bridges, transit, passenger rail, freight rail, ports and airports. While this is a substantial amount of funding, the backlog of needs is tremendous. Therefore, it is critical that every dollar be spent to generate the most benefits in quality of life for Illinois residents.  

Additionally, MPC is focused on making sure that our transportation systems are more equitable and accessible to people who experience disabilities or have lower incomes.


The Metropolitan Planning Council has long advocated for making data-driven decisions so that every tax dollar is invested wisely. In 2017, the Illinois Department of Transportation debuted a new Performance Based Project Evaluation Tool to prioritize transportation projects using criteria aligned with the state’s transportation goals. This approach is called performance-based planning, which means that investments are planned based on the expected outcomes. Moving forward it will be critical to ensure that funds invested by the Illinois Department of Transportation are made using this new prioritization tool.  Additionally, for maintenance projects, IDOT is required to follow its federally required Transportation Asset Management PlanHere is a summary of the benefits of a performance-based transportation planning process. 

Transit agencies should also use transparent performance-based methods for project prioritization.  CTA, Metra and Pace are now required by the U.S. Department of Transportation to develop Transit Asset Management Plans, which guide maintenance policies.

Transportation Equity

To address the mobility needs of low-income workers, MPC is part of a team conducting focus groups over the summer/fall of 2019 with job seekers on how transportation challenges impact the ability to obtain or retain employment

To address the transportation needs of people with disabilities, MPC is developing a study to be released in late 2019 on Universal Mobility, which assesses the current supply of transportation services for this population and potential solutions.  The report will make policy recommendations to improve the quality of transportation services, the ability to obtain information and other facets of improving mobility for people at all ages and abilities.  

MPC is also conducting an evaluation of how transportation performance measures consider equity and developing recommendations for future improvements.

To learn more about Sustainable Revenue, check out:

Sustainable Revenue for Transportation

While a new capital funding proposal was passed in 2019 that will provide six years of funding through increases in the motor fuel tax and vehicle registration, we must always be thinking about the sustainability of our funding structures. Due to anticipated increases in vehicle mileage and adoption of electric vehicles that will result in steadily decreasing gas tax revenues, over the long term we must be exploring ways to migrate to new types of funding models such as mileage based user fees. Read a summary or view the recording of a MPC roundtable program that discussed experiences of some other states that have piloted these methods and the potential of establishing a pilot program in Illinois.


Crowd-sourced stories and photos of failing transportation infrastructure that is used to advocate for sustainable revenue

Transit Means Business 

An initiative to promote the connection between transit investments and our ability to recruit and retain businesses and workers in metropolitan Chicago. Check out the statistics and review business case studies here.

To learn more about our Equity in Transportation Work, check out:

 Our Equitable Future

Advancing racial equity with policies and programs to uproot our legacy of segregation







Improving Transit for People with Disabilities

MPC is developing a study on Universal Mobility that investigates the current supply paratransit, the accessibility of fixed route services, and pedestrian infrastructure to access these services as well as trends among the older and disabled populations.  The report to be released in 2019 will make recommendations for a better designed transportation system to meet the needs of people at all ages and abilities.

To learn more about Innovation in Infrastructure check out:

Innovative Infrastructure Delivery

Fundamentally rethinking how we invest in infrastructure

Autonomous Vehicles
A series of discussions on the policy and lifestyle implications of driverless cars


The quality of life in Illinois will be improved when our transportation investments are prioritized with a focus on the return on investment achieved for each dollar.  We all win when our investments add up to continuous improvement on:

  • Increased multimodal choices
  • Increased reliability of travel on our roads, trains and buses.
  • Increased affordable ways to get around
  • Improved safety of all roadway and transit users
  • Transportation that connects us with more places we want to go
  • Transportation that improves environmental outcomes

The promise of Universal Mobility is a Chicago region where people of all ages and abilities can get around and meet their needs.  This means that people can actually get to bus stops via accessible sidewalks, people know how to access and use the region’s paratransit services, and transportation for people with disabilities is of the same quality as for those without disabilities. That way everyone has mobility options they need to live a self-determined life.

The promise of a transportation system developed with equity in mind is that all people can access jobs, food, medical care and social options via high quality, affordable transportation.

Metropolitan Planning Council 140 S. Dearborn St.
Suite 1400
Chicago, Ill. 60603
312 922 5616

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Shaping a better, bolder, more equitable future for everyone

For more than 85 years, the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) has partnered with communities, businesses, and governments to unleash the greatness of the Chicago region. We believe that every neighborhood has promise, every community should be heard, and every person can thrive. To tackle the toughest urban planning and development challenges, we create collaborations that change perceptions, conversations—and the status quo. Read more about our work »

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