Chicago Sun-Times

In case you were wondering

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My column today notes that the 12 board members who run Pace suburban bus service rarely ride it.

This got me thinking about the ridership habits of the state lawmakers who hold the fate of Chicago's mass transit system in their hands.

So I asked representatives for Governor Blagojevich and the state's legislative leaders to ask their bosses how often they take the CTA, Metra or Pace. Here's what they said:

"The Governor grew up riding the CTA -- he used buses and the el to get to school all the way through his university years, and then also used it to get to work when he was a practicing attorney," Blagojevich spokeswoman Abby Ottenhoff said. Blagojevich's mother was also a ticket agent for the CTA. Now, though, the governor isn't a frequent transit rider.

Ditto for Senate Majority leader Emil Jones. He doesn't take transit, but "he supports it," his rep said.

Steve Brown, spokesman for House Speaker Michael Madigan, gave me the brushoff, saying the speaker was too busy with the ongoing legislative session to answer the question. So I can't tell you how often Madigan takes the L or Metra.

Reps for the House and Senate minority leaders were more helpful.

With the exception of trips to Wrigley Field on the Red Line, House Minority leader Tom Cross isn't a regular transit rider, spokesman David Dring said, noting that Cross' hometown of Oswego offers very few options where public transportation is concerned.

The same can be said for Senate Minority leader Frank Watson, who lives in Greenville. But Watson rep Patty Schuh says her boss uses the CTA when he's in Chicago, and takes Metra to visit legislative districts in the suburbs.

In short, CTA riders who say legislators in Springfield are out of touch with the woeful state of Chicago-area mass transit may be on to something, considering how infrequently the state's top leaders ride buses and trains.

But Schuh also makes a valid point:
"You don't have to be an everyday user to understand the importance of it."

Still, understanding the importance of transit is one thing. Coming to a consensus on how to fund it is something else entirely.




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2 Comments

If the hypocracy of not using public tranportation by public legislators were a lake, then Chicago would be Superior (if not the Mediteranean Sea). Public tranportation is no means of tranportation for legislators, local or statewide. Do any of the alderbutts sit on a train or a bus? I can assure you they most certainly do not (well none of the ones on the South Side do).

They are leaders, much better than the poor fools they represent who are cursed to using public transportation. Public transportation is, as you know, for the huddled masses, not the esteemed bribetakers, I mean legislators. Do they not suffer enough to allow us in their hallowed court, that they shake our grimey hands, must they too actually have to sit somewhere near the least of their fifedoms?

C'mon give our good and fare (that's a joke, not a misspelling) legislators a break, that they occasionaly visit our humble communities is enough, even then there are gates (Yes, Bobby Rush I am talking about you and your electric gate that protects you and yours from the likes of the people who would roam down 79th Street) and there should be. After all that "We the People..." idea should only go so far, then it is "Y'all the people..."

I live in the Naperville area and regularly see the Pace
buses at or near the downtown area. It is very rare to
see more then a handful of people riding the buses. This
is true both near the train station, and at Edward Hospital.
These two destinations should generate a considerable
amount of ridership, but they do not seem to draw that
many people. The buses themselves clog traffic, especially
in the downtown Naperville area. Pace contributes to the
traffic congestion in Naperville, it does not relieve
traffic congestion.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Monifa Thomas published on June 18, 2007 8:29 AM.

Now it's Metra and Pace's turn was the previous entry in this blog.

Thou shalt not speed and other sound advice is the next entry in this blog.

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