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Push for transit upgrade after 'eye-opening' tour of eroding system

By Anthonia Akitunde in News on Apr 18, 2009 9:00AM

Photo by no22a
Eight legislators saw the best and worst of the city's transit on a tour led by the chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee to show the need for a multi-billion dollar program to upgrade and maintain the transit system on Friday.

State Sen. Martin Sandoval (D-12th District), chairman of the committee, said without the program the aging stations and equipment could damage Chicago's "world-class" status and hurt its chances at winning the bid for the Olympics, according to the Tribune's report.

After the tour, participants said they would encourage their fellow legislators to push for the multi-billion dollar program.

The bipartisan group of city and suburban lawmakers led by Sandoval saw the 100-year-old L platform at Madison and Wabash, a corroded, rusty metal roof at the Cicero Metra station and a group of worn-down cars still in use on the Metra Electric District line. On a brighter note it also saw one of the new $790,000 hybrid buses the CTA plans to buy 58 more of with stimulus money. The group used Metra, Pace and L trains on their tour.

Legislators have until May 31 to create a public works program.

The Regional Transit Authority said it needs a five-year, $10 billion capital program to maintain and expand transit services, but legislators hoped for a $1 billion-a-year capital program funded by an increased gasoline tax.