Monday letters: Better transit can carry people out of poverty

SHARE Monday letters: Better transit can carry people out of poverty

Elon Musk’s The Boring Company has been selected to build and operate a faster option than the current CTA Blue Line to get to O’Hare from downtown. | File photo

I am heartened to see local, regional and state leaders recognizing that robust mass transit fuels economic growth. (“Emanuel vows to deliver O’Hare express trains Daley dreamed of,” Feb. 9, 2017.) But I must question Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s primary focus on a new high-speed train to O’Hare. When so many Chicagoans live in underdeveloped communities, with weak or nonexistent transit links to large swaths of the city, should our priority be shaving 20 minutes off a business traveler’s airport commute?

Instead, City Hall, the CTA, the RTA and Metra should work together to expand and integrate public transit networks where they are currently insufficient. The long-overdue Red Line extension is a critical part of that, as Mayor Emanuel identified. Equally important is expanding public transit throughout the West Side, which, as Ald. Emma Mitts points out in the article, remains badly underserved.

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Another goal should be to improve service on the Metra Electric. Currently, that system’s South Side and south suburban riders deal with wait times that can reach an hour and a half. They face additional headaches transferring between the Metra and the CTA, which remain poorly integrated.

Neighborhoods on the South and West sides would gain enormously if our leaders committed to a program of transit-oriented development. As a Sun-Times’ editorial board noted recently (“A better idea than rent control for the Logan Squares,”), transit-oriented development fosters economic growth while preserving affordability and community character.

Chicagoans on the South Side and the West Side deserve the benefits of efficient public transit currently enjoyed by those on the North Side and downtown. Larger customer bases for local businesses. Convenient, cost-efficient commutes for residents and visitors — which one Harvard study identified as the single most important factor allowing people to escape poverty. Substantial reductions in pollution, making our city cleaner and making ourselves and our children healthier.

I urge Mayor Emanuel and other local leaders to refocus Chicago’s infrastructure priorities. Working together, we can create a mass transit system that spurs sustainable growth and heightens quality of living for all Chicagoans — beginning with those who have been too long overlooked.

Andrew Daglas, Near North Side

President Trump, you are no JKF

President Donald Trump does not appreciate the role that a free and independent media plays in our democratic society. At times the media plays an adversarial role to a president, which is well within its rights under the First Amendment, and it is interesting to compare Trump to President John F. Kennedy in the regard.

Unlike Trump, Kennedy’s had an excellent relationship with reporters during his live press conferences, displaying wit and wisdom. However, like all presidents he was subjected to criticism and was irritated by it.  According to his press secretary, Pierre Salinger, Kennedy remarked that “I am reading it more and enjoying it less.”

Like previous presidents, Trump has spoken out about leaks. Kennedy was incensed by newspaper stories concerning plans that ultimately resulted in the Bay of Pigs fiasco. However, after meeting with some concerned editors and publishers at the White House, he conceded that if more had been published it might have saved his administration “from a colossal mistake.”

Unfortunately, Trump has shown himself not to be as reflective as Kennedy. Rather than being “the enemy of the American people,” an unfettered media represents one of the most pivotal guarantors of our liberty.

Larry Vigon, Jefferson Park

Trump’s fixations

Donald Trump is fixated on the carnage in Chicago. He should be fixated on the carnage in his own administration.

David Berkey, Elgin

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