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Study Identifies Chicago's 'Transit Deserts'

A new report challenges assumptions about Chicago's transit system, identifying well-populated neighborhoods that are cut off from frequent transit service.
August 4, 2014, 8am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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John Hilkevitch shares news of a new report by the Center for Neighborhood Technology, due for release later this week. Here's how Hilkevitch summarizes the report's findings: "About 1 out of every 10 people in Cook County, roughly 438,500 residents, live in 'transit deserts' that are cut off from fast, frequent train and bus service." The study, explains Hilkevitch, "for the first time identifies dozens of Chicago-area mass transit dead zones and maps them in relation to major job clusters."

More than just residential neighborhoods lack adequate transit service, according to the report. The study also "found that four of the Chicago region's five big employment areas are in suburbs that are not well-connected to high-quality transit, making them difficult to reach without a vehicle. Those four job centers make up the northwest corridor past O'Hare International Airport, Lombard, Naperville and Oak Brook."

CTA officials, for the record, have disputed the findings of the report, saying "that more than 96 percent of the city of Chicago is not in what the study defined as a transit desert. In addition, the service levels that the study outlined to avoid the classification of a transit desert are 'standards that any transit agency in the U.S. would be unable to meet' on a 24-hour, systemwide basis, CTA spokesman Brian Steele said."

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Published on Sunday, August 3, 2014 in Chicago Tribune
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