Chicago’s Regional Transportation Authority (RTA), Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), Metra and Pace Suburban Bus are joining a national delegation of transit and business leaders in Washington, D.C., during the White House Jobs Summit, to showcase the benefits of investing in the “ready-to-go” mass transit infrastructure projects that will create and sustain jobs and protect the environment immediately and in to the next several decades.
With a successful track record of using federal stimulus funds for transit projects in hand, an alliance of the nation’s top metro transit systems, including New York; Boston; Washington, D.C.; Philadelphia; Atlanta and Chicago, among others, are partnering with corresponding chambers of commerce to meet with the White House Office of Urban Affairs, the U.S. Department of Transportation, and key members of Congress to highlight transit’s critical infrastructure needs, the opportunity to invest in creating jobs and boosting the economic recovery.
Earlier this year, the Federal Transit Administration released a study, at the request of Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill), which identified current needs for the largest transit systems in the country. According to the study, the seven largest transit systems, including Chicago, account for approximately 80 percent of total annual rail trips, but suffer from a backlog of $50 billion in repair needs.
“There is not a more critical time to be investing in transit,” said Steve Schlickman, RTA's executive director. “When it comes to our national goals of increasing economic development and job creation, and reducing dependence on foreign oil and greenhouse gases, transit is prepared with projects we can work on immediately and produce real results.” Schlickman also noted that according to recent studies, every $1.25 billion investment in transit repair and maintenance projects generates more than 51,000 jobs.
While transit systems across the country have a long list of “shovel-ready” projects, the transit and business delegation is also highlighting long-term economic returns of investments in transit.
From sustainable development to economic growth to reducing auto emissions, the group will showcase how transit agencies effectively utilized funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act approved earlier this year to help the economy recover and create jobs. As a pending surface transportation reauthorization program and a potential “jobs bill” are reviewed in Congress, the transit and business communities will meet with lawmakers to promote how transit infrastructure investments can continue to create jobs and lay the foundation for long term economic growth.