Editor’s note: The following was presented during public comments at the June 10 Rockford City Council meeting.
In many ways, the public transportation infrastructure should be utilized by public transportation. A public transportation system is intended to provide a more efficient way to get people to work, to health care, to education and to shopping. These are all components of commerce, and when provided to a larger number of people in a single system, can reduce energy consumption, reduce wear and tear on the roads, and provide a cost-effective and consistent means for people to be productive participants in the economy. Presently, I am seeing the growing definition of a need for such a system here in Rockford to support our future. The present system in Rockford is a good start, but it is locked within the city boundaries.
A more comprehensive system will better match workers with jobs. We have companies that are looking for workers, and a barrier to getting good employees has been the lack of transportation. We have been working with potential new companies looking to relocate, and one of the first questions they ask is what type of public transportation system we have. If a company is going to bring 800 to 4,000 jobs to our community, they want to know that these workers can get to and from work every day. We have also noticed that the cost of transportation is getting much more expensive, especially with fuel prices. The cost of transportation is taking more and more of the paycheck and is putting pressure on both employer and employee.
It is not hard to see that some families have to make tough choices between buying gas or other family necessities. A comprehensive start to an efficient public transportation program here in our region of Illinois is a vital component to moving the economy forward. Programs are available to fund such a system without any local tax or cost. The design of such a system is based on an eye toward the future and not the habit pattern of the past. Without it, our local economy will not become stronger like it should.
By having the bus run 24 hours a day, seven days a week, you could put 20,000 people to work in Rockford. This will help lower your unemployment rate, homeless rate, poverty rate and crime rate, and help raise more revenue for Rockford. By doing this alone, you could bring into Rockford $20,465,315.08 a year.
From the June 12-18, 2013, issue