Do Metra riders get unfair share of funding?

The answer is yes if you believe the allegations in a civil rights lawsuit filed today.
A class action
lawsuit was filed today alleging that an Illinois transit funding scheme enacted
in 1983 funneled a disproportionate amount of transportation money to
white people riding the Metra than to minorities taking the CTA. According to, "The lawsuit said the CTA receives only about 59 percent of RTA operating subsidies even though 82 percent of Chicago-area transit riders use the CTA."

It wasn't too long ago that another major civil rights lawsuit was filed here.

On Aug. 20, 2008, the Chicago Urban League and the Quad County Urban League filed a lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court against the State of Illinois and the Illinois State Board of Education, claiming the defendants violated students' civil rights by providing unequal funding to schools based on race, particularly black and Latino students

These are two major civil rights lawsuits in a relatively short period of time. And from what we hear, more could be on the way. What does this say about Chicago?


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  • it says anyone who thinks we're postracial is out of touch with reality.

  • While just about everybody is saying that the lawsuit filed recently against IDOT, RTA, and Metra is unfounded and some kind of lawyer scam; the lawsuit (however frivelous) is the end result the Southeast Lakefront quadrant of the city being left out of CTA's RAIL transit system grid.

    Especially in Mr. Mungula's case of living in the community of South Chicago, to which
    the closest CTA 'L' service is the Red Line; a 25 to 45 minute bus ride away (and using 1 of the 2 transfers available on a single fare trip).

    Had the Transit Operators (RTA, CTA, and Metra) found a way years ago, there would have been no reason for Mr. Mungula and Ms. McGhee to consider a (frivelous) suit.

    As can be seen on this beautiful and geographically accurate map posted on The Transport Politic: the large Southeast quadrant of the city (to the lower right) does not have the same CTA rapid transit coverage as the rest of the city.

    The fact that the Metra Electric District serves the area is of little or no benefit as the Electric District has NO fare or service integration with local CTA bus and rail services.

    CTA has no plans EVER to extend 'L' service to the area (it would cost approx. $2 billion to construct a new Southeast CTA 'L' Line), and plans from the South Lakefront communities have been largely ignored for many years:

    Hopefully, with the impetus of the Lawsuit pressing their feet to the fire, the new RTA/CDOT Southeast Lakefront Corridor Study will end-up being profitable to all.

  • It would seem like an impossible call since white and black people use both transportation systems. But I would have to conclude that race is an undue factor in how money for transportation and education is spent in the state and the nation.

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