Share This Page

Cleaner, Healthier Transit Systems

Op-ed: COVID-19 should spark sustainable planning

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced people to rethink how they travel – an opening for cities like Chicago to remake themselves into healthier, more competitive living spaces.

Ed Miller, co-director of The Joyce Foundation’s Environment program, discusses the grave threats that COVID-19 poses to the nation’s public transit systems and how cities should begin thinking beyond them in an op-ed column published as part of Crain’s Forum.

Ridership has plummeted, along with revenues, for the Chicago Transit Authority and the Metra regional commuter network. When offices re-open, more commuters are likely to jump back in their cars, jamming streets and raising emissions.

In his column, found here, Miller prescribes four clear priorities as cities re-imagine and redesign new landscapes that can emerge from the crisis:

  • Upgrade transit systems that we all depend on, including with new and expanded tracks and stations and touchless entry and exit systems
  • Transform systems and habits toward zero emissions, including the introduction of electric buses
  • Level health and economic disparities by prioritizing new transit systems, jobs and training in underinvested parts of the city
  • Save money in the long run through lower operating costs and new technologies like battery storage

To make our city healthier and easier to navigate, Miller writes, the planning should start now.

The Joyce Foundation supports research and policymaking behind solutions to climate change, the biggest intergenerational threat to our communities and our planet. That includes clean-energy strategies designed to remedy economic and equity issues facing the next generation in the Great Lakes region.

Miller manages the Foundation’s grants to advance climate solutions, prioritizing policies that simultaneously drive reductions in carbon pollution and create other economic and social benefits.

The Joyce Foundation is a sponsor of Crain’s Forum, a monthly examination of the most difficult issues facing Chicago and its region.