Aug 28, 2020 - Economy & Business

Chicago official: COVID-19 allows for transit innovation

Ina Fried and Gia Biagi

Axios' Ina Fried (l) and Chicago Transportation Commissioner Gia Biagi. Photo: Axios

The lull in transit use during COVID-19 has given officials room to experiment with public transportation for all communities, Chicago's transportation commissioner, Gia Biagi, said at an Axios event on Friday.

The big picture: Americans have shied away from public transportation during the coronavirus pandemic. But Biagi argues that declines in ridership provide a window to innovation that wouldn't otherwise be available.

  • Chicago has experimented with prioritizing bikes and pedestrians over cars in some of the city's streets.
  • "Migrating back to cars, going back to the way things were is not the future, right. The future is figuring out how we can get more folks moving around our city as easily as possible and not in cars," Biagi said.

What they're saying: "In addition to doing things like bus, rapid transit, pilot lanes, we've also tried to reposition what the street means to people. That is, that a street is not just about cars, it's about moving and it's about place ... COVID gave us the chance to experiment with that dialogue."

  • "We're actually helping Chicagoans to see that their street should be doing other things and that if we can complement that with enough modes of alternative transit as opposed to a car, then we can really reposition the quality of life for many neighborhoods," she added.
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