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Rahm Calls For Federal Transit Help, While Throwing Shade At Trump &... The MTA?

By Stephen Gossett in News on Jul 3, 2017 5:40PM

Green Line train to Harlem, via Joseph Mietus/Flickr

The CTA is getting a train car-load of love this year, especially with the 'L' celebrating its 125th birthday this year. Rahm, um, got on board again in a Monday op-ed in the New York Times. While also toasting the CTA and its modernized infrastructure, he called on Trump and Congressional lawmakers to bulk up federal assistance to local mass-transit projects—and he got in some digs at Trump and even New York's currently embattled Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

In terms of policy, Rahm's editorial calls for additional funding for a federal program that upgrades stressed transit corridors and asks for the expansion of low-interest federal loans, which Chicago has used in the past—funding that he argues should be raised in part by an additional 10-cent gas tax.

Rahm also jabbed away at Trump's social-media habit in doing so:

"Rather than tweeting about violence in Chicago, President Trump should be looking to Chicago as a model for the infrastructure investments and economic growth he wants to replicate across the country. Instead of embarking on his wrongheaded plan to privatize infrastructure construction, he should expand existing programs that have used local-federal partnerships to build transportation systems."

More unexpected was the shade he tossed at New York City and Washington D.C. transit systems. He opened the op-ed, as counterpoint to Chicago's smooth-riding ways:

"On Thursday, in the wake of a subway derailment and an epidemic of train delays, Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York declared a state of emergency for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the busiest mass transit system in America. That same day, the nation’s third-busiest system — the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority — handed out coupons for free coffee to riders stuck in the second year of slowdowns caused by repairs to prevent chronic fires."

"Last year, more than 238 million rides were taken on the system, which, unlike the ones in New York and Washington, has not been troubled by systemic failures, breakdowns and delays," he went on. "Even during a 28-day stretch of arctic temperatures in 2014, the L was never interrupted."

Given that New York City's annual transit ridership pushes over 1.5 billion (as opposed to Chicago's just 237 million) and New York has more than three times the train stations, any comparison to the two strikes us as very much chalk and cheese. And it also seems ill-advised to throw rocks while you can peer through the mayor's glass house and find one or two controversies. (And there's also of course that dubious, quixotic fixation on an O'Hare high-speed rail; and the CTA, as much as we love it, is, well, hardly perfect.) But we guess that's just Rahm.

But fair point about privatization and over-focusing on roadway construction.

Check out Rahm's full op-ed, with the rather unfortunate title "Rahm Emanuel: In Chicago, the Trains Actually Run on Time," here.