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Sunday Letters: Good transit is critical to Chicago area

Al Podgorski~Chicago Sun-Times

Kudos for stressing the importance of mass transit to our economy, [“CTA looks to Chicago’s future by restoring two old bus lines, ” Nov. 22], Top-notch public transportation is a critical component of a city-centered living in Chicago and around our region and essential to our evolving regional economy. The CTA’s decision to pilot new bus routes on 31st Street and Lincoln Avenue is smart, future-oriented thinking tied directly to rider requests. This work keeps the “public” in public transportation. Your editorial gets it right: today’s CTA riders — young and old — expect a transportation eco-system, of which our public transportation system is the backbone.

And, as CTA President Dorval Carter pointed out in his subsequent letter, [“CTA’s normal state revenues are not a ‘bailout,’ ” Monday], roughly half of CTA’s funding is public funding allocated through a statutory formula; the remainder comes from fare boxes and other system-generated sources such as advertising. The CTA, Metra, Pace and the RTA are investing our limited funds wisely and working to provide customers with the safe and reliable public transportation they deserve. Proudly, Chicagoland has the lowest operating cost per passenger mile of the systems in the country’s top 10 metropolitan regions.

Most states and cities are investing more in mass transit, especially as increasingly our work force is made up of the heavily mass transit-reliant millennial generation. With the recent study that found that Chicago is home to the worst traffic bottleneck in the United States, it’s important to remember that it would take 29 additional lanes on our expressways to handle Metra’s daily riders. Last year, CTA “L” ridership was at an all-time high (the highest in 50 years), Metra saw its second highest ridership ever, and Pace continued to be one of the nation’s premier providers of transportation for people with disabilities and vital to suburban employers.

Where public transportation goes, community grows. Ride On!

Kirk Dillard, chairman, Regional Transportation Authority

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Doing the wrong thing

It’s ironic the killing of Laquan McDonald by police officer Jason Van Dyke came to a head the week Spike Lee’s movie of Chicago violence, “Chi-Raq,” debuted. Lee’s presence reminds me of his profound 1989 flick ‘”Do The Right Thing” which, 26 years later, still resonates with me every day of my life. That’s because Lee showed the consequences of folks not doing the right thing, in which a hot day, hot tempers and no turning back from confrontation led to the senseless death of a man and wanton destruction of a neighborhood.

After 400 days we’re learning tragic details of how virtually no one involved in the McDonald shooting, including McDonald himself, did the right thing. Ingesting PCP and roaming a main thoroughfare with a knife led McDonald to violence prone, trigger-happy cop Van Dyke, who pumped 16 slugs into a non-threatening McDonald. Fellow cops on the scene did nothing except stop Van Dyke from reloading, then likely corroborated Van Dyke’s false narrative McDonald was in a death charge against him. Public officials from Police Supt. Garry McCarthy, State’s Attorney Anita Alverez and Mayor Rahm Emanuel all bear scrutiny as likely obfuscating the investigation for political concerns, such as delaying the inevitable day of reckoning and facilitating a re-election campaign.

Every political official, every cop, indeed, every citizen, would be wise to view “Do The Right Thing” for the wisdom it imparts to navigate the problematic society we inhabit and hopefully lead to more . . . “doing the right thing.”

Walt Zlotow, Glen Ellyn