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Shutting down public transit is unfair to Chicagoans who need it most

The repeated evening and overnight shutdowns of CTA, Divvy and paratransit service in the downtown area set an alarming precedent.

A Green Line train headed for downtown approaches the Clinton Station on the Near West Side.
A Green Line train headed for downtown approaches the Clinton Station on the Near West Side.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Public transit provides access to opportunity for thousands of working-class Chicagoans. Buses, trains, paratransit and bike share services connect people to their jobs, health care appointments, grocery stores and families. When all that’s taken away, riders are cut off from where they need to go, or forced to pay much more for a taxi or ride-hail trip.

The repeated evening and overnight shutdowns of CTA, Divvy and paratransit service in the downtown area set an alarming precedent. City officials are making this call without providing the public a clear understanding of why severely limiting mobility across the city is necessary.

They say this is part of a broader strategy to “protect Chicago communities and neighborhood businesses,” but they don’t explain how shutting down transit helps achieve their goals.

SEND LETTERS TO: letters@suntimes.com. Please include your neighborhood or hometown and a phone number for verification purposes. Letters should be approximately 350 words or less.

The decision-making process is neither transparent nor inclusive.

Think of the Roseland resident who rides the Red Line downtown to work the night shift in building maintenance or security.

Or the Garfield Park resident who takes a Divvy bike to work the early shift at a Loop coffee shop.

Or the Avondale resident who rides the Blue Line to work overnight at a downtown health care center or nursing home.

Or the Chinatown resident with a disability who needs paratransit for any planned and unplanned trips outside the home.

Black and Brown people — who are more likely to ride transit and less likely to work a 9-to-5 job — are disproportionately impacted. The city’s most vulnerable residents without access to a car suffer the most.

Cutting off transit options for thousands of Chicagoans cannot become a regular, accepted practice.

Amy Rynell
Executive Director, Active Transportation Alliance

Land Bank is a national model

As a member of the Cook County Land Bank Authority’s board of directors, I feel compelled to set the record straight about the Sun-Times’ Watchdogs coverage.

First, an independent auditor earlier this year found that we’ve violated no laws or guidelines. Second, the Land Bank does not receive any taxpayer support or subsidy to do its work.

The Land Bank boldly democratizes access to distressed properties and creates wealth-building opportunities, especially and effectively for people of color. We acquire distressed properties, remove barriers such as back taxes and transfer them to small, local developers and first-time homeowners committed to stabilizing their neighborhoods.

Grassroots development is more important than ever, because wealth generated in a community remains in and benefits that community. The Land Bank’s approach to development has generated $85 million in community wealth.

The Land Bank considers various factors in evaluating property development plans, including the strength of the plan, its positive impact on the community, the developer’s capacity to perform the work and ability to pay for it.

We do not consider factors that have traditionally blocked equitable participation by Black and Latinx people. We do not exclude people with a prior criminal conviction. We do not require a lobbyist, a lawyer or minimum net worth, a minimum credit score or a special designation to purchase properties.

I am proud that we actively work to remove systemic barriers and to provide fair opportunity for all — developers, homeowners, entrepreneurs and neighborhoods.

Our staff conducts business ethically and in a manner that has earned the praise and respect of economic development advocates in Cook County. The Land Bank leadership is respected by the local community development community. The work of the organization is a national model for inclusive economic development.

Lyneir Richardson
CEO, Chicago TREND and assistant professor, Rutgers Business School