DRAFT FOR DISCUSSION
DRAFT FOR DISCUSSION
Public transit’s critical role in Illinois climate change mitigation
• In October 2006, Governor Blagojevich issued an Executive Order to reduce Illinois
greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.
• Transportation emissions, which make up a quarter of statewide totals, rose nearly 20
percent between 1990 and 2003 and continue to grow faster than other sectors.
• A business-as-usual approach will accelerate climate change, as vehicle miles traveled
are projected to increase 14% by 2020.
• Reducing emissions from transportation is a necessary component in achieving the
Governor’s emission reduction goals and mitigating climate change.
Public transit is a proven strategy for emissions and congestion reduction
• In 2005, Chicago-area transit’s relative efficiency directly lowered CO2 emissions by
about 1.2 million tons compared to equivalent auto traffic. By reducing congestion,
transit indirectly lowered emissions by about 400,000 additional tons.
• In 2005, transit in northeastern Illinois emitted two-thirds less carbon dioxide than a
comparable auto trip, equivalent to achieving average auto efficiency of 60 mpg.
• Electric-powered transit is particularly efficient in reducing emissions: in 2005, an
electric rapid transit trip produced one-fifth the CO2 of an equivalent auto trip.
Increased transit share is achievable more quickly than emerging technology
• With supportive land use and densities, transit captures approximately 60% of work
trips to downtown Chicago and up to 70% of peak-hour trips in key corridors. Urban
densities offer potential for greater mode share in off-peak periods.
• If Chicago-area transit attained London’s current mode share of regional transit trips,
then Illinois would achieve nearly half of the required 10.2 million-ton reduction from
the transportation sector. Roughly half of this benefit would be from reduced
congestion, a benefit not offered by alternative fuels and technological change. With
additional investment, transit service can be expanded and/or enhanced to further
mitigate congestion and decrease emissions from the transportation sector.
• As noted in the Executive Order, climate change could become irreversible in less
than a decade, so reductions must be accomplished as quickly as possible. Compared
with emerging technologies, increased transit service (especially off-peak service and
bus service) can be implemented relatively quickly with sufficient funding.
Transit emission reductions can be realized through incremental policies
• Short-Run: Provide sufficient operating and capital funding to increase transit service
to boost ridership to levels required to meet state emission-reductions goals.
Greater London’s per-capita funding for transit operations is almost five times greater
than in the Chicago region.
• Medium-Run: Promote market-based mechanisms to encourage efficient use of limited
fuel resources and road space (e.g., congestion pricing, increased parking fees, and
expansion of road tolling, as described in RTA’s Moving Beyond Congestion).
• Long-Run: Create economic incentives for and reduce legislative impediments to
compact mixed-use development (particularly in concentrated employment centers),
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