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Legislators get uncomfortable view of unfunded capital needs

State legislators on Friday got a firsthand -- and uncomfortable -- look at just some of the myriad public transit capital projects that need funding for fixing.

The uncomfortable part came in an un-air-conditioned ride on a Pace bus from a Cicero Metra station to a Loop CTA El platform, according to a Daily Herald report. Oh, the irony of it all.

The idea was for the RTA to give state legislators a firsthand look at crumbling infrastructure and vehicles in disrepair on all three area transit systems. The hope is that legislators will finally pass a long-term capital spending bill -- something we haven't had since 2004.

Gov. Pat Quinn would fund a $25 billion bill through an income tax hike. About $10 billion would be earmarked for transit. But some Democratic lawmakers prefer to raise the gas tax, and funnel more of those proceeds to transit, and less to highway spending. Such blasphemy, say the Downstaters!

There are many ideas to fund this pressing need. All we need now is the political will and leadership to get it done before May 31. After that, a supermajority of 60% of legislators must approve any spending plan.

Comments

They should have had the bus mysteriously 'break down' somewhere on the Stevenson.

It's too bad that most of the people were already from the city and probably were more supportive of the cause. They need to get more of the suburban and downstate reps to see the problem.

"They need to get more of the suburban and downstate reps to see the problem."

True, to the extent that is possible. I'm sure there are a number of downstate and collar-county legislators who (a) would never consent to a close-up look at public transit or (b) would look at a rusted-out rail trestle or a wheezing bus without functioning heating or cooling and say, "Fine with me."

How about having the legislators get stuck in the subway for 25 minutes in a car that hasn't been cleaned recently and has non-functioning ventilation and a PA system that makes the train operator sound like the teacher on Peanuts.

How about having them get stuck in the subway for 25 years?

I question the story, especially the unairconditioned bus part. I don't recall a day yet this year that was hot enough to run the air conditioner. Also, the TV news reports showed one of the 6900 series motor coaches. Now, maybe the Herald was referring to another bus, or to a bus with its heat stuck on. But, I am not buying the story on first glance.

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