RE: Illinois Legislation Restricting Public-Private Partnerships for Transportation Projects
Citizens Taking Action for advancement of transit and trains
Efforts to Stop 99 Year Sale of the Illinois Transportation Infrastructure
Members of various organization opposed to "public-private partnerships" in Illinois are commencing lobbying efforts with state legislators to pass measures which would restrict their use for financing transportation projects. In August a new law took effect which authorizes up to 99 years of control of the state's infrastructure by private parties operating for profit. The group, Privatization Watch: Illinois, maintains that the law is seriously flawed, lacks transparency and public oversight, and could cost the state millions if not billions of dollars.
The legislation, HB 1091, was sponsored by Rep. Elaine Nekritz in the House and Sen. Heather Steans in the Senate. The group seeks passage of a "trailer bill," HB4502, which they feel is necessary to correct loopholes in the original bill that open the door for serious abuses, such as took place in the sale of Chicago's parking meters.
Charles Paidock, Secretary of Citizens Taking Action, a transit advocacy group, is concerned that segments of CTA, Metra, or Pace could be sold to, or operated by, private sector companies concerned more with making money than providing reliable service. Mr. Paidock stated: "We have found examples of other cities in which this approach was tried, and with disastrous results. Services like the new bus rapid transit lines could easily be sold, or even entire elevated lines, or all buses operating out of a particular barn. Contracting out is potentially a very hazardous way to finance transportation. The city loses control, and instead of public transit the only thing you get is costly litigation."
Representatives of the group fear that this is the first step to privatizing other aspects of state or city services, such as water, sanitization, libraries or parks. They are planning concerted lobbying efforts in Springfield in late February and early March.