A Simple Idea to Fix Transit on Chicago's South Side
Chicago's North Side is denser and more prosperous than its South Side. Serving the South Side’s population is more difficult than serving the North Side, not only because its equally-sized population is more diffused, but also because those who live in the area are more likely to be children or elderly than are their counterparts on the North Side, so their transit needs are less likely to be for commutes to the center city to work. That population is more likely to be in school or retired.
"Faced with this set of challenges, advocates and policymakers theoretically have two basic options: Encourage more housing, shops, and jobs near existing transit; and expand the rapid transit network," Daniel Key Hertz argues in a piece for South Side Weekly. Toward the goal of improving transit for the South Side, Kay Hertz recommends waking a "sleeping giant" by leveraging the full potential of the Metra: by connecting its payment system to the CTA's, by making its trips more frequent and by modernizing the city's buses, which have an outsized effect on South Side Chicagoans. "Send a train down the Metra tracks every ten to fifteen minutes and install turnstiles that take Ventra (or give conductors handheld readers), and you’ve effectively created a new “L” line without laying a single foot of new track," Kay Hertz argues.
This work would go a long way toward addressing the persistent inequities in the Midwest's biggest city.