Chicago’s Grant to Fund More Mass Transit: Will it Increase Road Safety?

In an effort to reduce the public's frustration with traffic congestion, the federal government is offering Chicago a $35 million grant to construct several public transit projects. The public agrees the bus projects will most likely improve commuting times and help the environment, however, some wonder whether the mass transit endeavors in Chicago, and around the country, will decrease the number of traffic accidents and fatalities each year.

Since Henry Ford debuted the first Model-T in 1908, private vehicles have been pumping off assembly lines and onto American roads at an exponential rate. At the time, the public saw Henry Ford as a visionary who fostered technologies aimed at making life easier and less stressful for the public. Little did Ford or Americans at the turn of the last century realize that private automobile industry would end up causing enormous frustration for many people, businesses and the economy.

High gas prices, extended commuting times, lack of road infrastructure upgrades, and negative effects on the environment are the obvious culprits. However, an increased number of automobiles on the road also mean an increased number of automobile-related accidents and fatalities each year.

Not only does the increase in vehicles on the road equate to an increase in traffic accidents, the high tech devices everyone uses while driving also contribute to these accidents. Drivers talking on their cell phones and texting while driving are distractions that cause more and more accidents despite legislative action.

Road Safety Through Public Transportation

The U.S. Bureau of Traffic Statistics concludes that public transportation is much safer than passenger vehicles. Within the last 5 years, over 100 times more car and motorcycles accidents occurred than accidents involving mass transit.

Because of these factors, communities are fed up. Funds once used to upgrade, expand or fix roadways to counter the inflation of vehicles on the roads today are now spent investing and creating public transit systems. China is already ahead of the game. In 2010, China launched the longest high speed rail in the world with networks totaling 4,300 miles in length.

Suburban residents still favor private vehicle use, however, and object to spending tax dollars on services that will only benefit people living in urban areas. Other opponents cite the deadly train accident in Belgium to disprove the arguments around the safety of mass transit.

The public consensus concludes that the pros outweigh the cons. Americans are fed up with the negative effects that come with driving a private vehicle. In the future, many more cities like Chicago will likely jump on the band wagon and implement similar mass transit projects.

  • Foundation
  • Million Dollar Advocates Forum
  • Illinois State Bar Association
  • American Association For Justice