Vallas’ platform has little about transportation. His campaign provided a bit more info.

The Chicago municipal election will be held on Tuesday, February 28, 2023. Early voting is available at two locations downtown and at one site in each of the 50 wards. Find your sample ballot on the Chicago Board of Elections website. 

To help voters make an educated decision about the mayoral race, Streetsblog Chicago has been running a series of articles on candidates’ transportation platforms. As a 501(c)3 nonprofit, we do not endorse candidates. Mayoral campaigns were invited to share their candidates’ positions on walking, biking, transit, traffic safety, and public space matters. Read previous articles about Kam Buckner’s, Chuy García’s, Ja’Mal Green’s,  Lori Lightfoot’s, and Willie Wilson’s platforms, as well as a humorous overview of the hopefuls transit platforms as literal transit platforms

Paul Vallas has held multiple government jobs, including CEO of the Chicago Public Schools under Mayor Richard M. Daley. His public safety platform has been the main thrust of his current Chicago mayoral campaign. (He also ran for mayor in 2019, as well as Illinois governor in 2002 and lieutenant governor in 2014.) However, his website has little to say about transit, other than calling for more policing of the CTA, and next to nothing about traffic safety and bike-pedestrian issues.
Vallas’ public safety page promises he will “ensure Chicago has a well-resourced CTA Mass Transit [police] Unit by using the funds spent for private security on the CTA to hire more CPD Officers.” It claims that the money the CTA is spending on private unarmed security guards and guard dog units could have funded nearly 300 police officers, bringing the number of officers assigned to the CTA to 500. “The goal will be to ensure that every CTA station and platform [has] a police presence and that uniform and undercover officers are riding CTA trains.”
The downsides of additional policing of the CTA were laid bare in February 2020, when an officer recklessly fired up an escalator of the busy Grand Red Line station while trying to detain an unarmed man for walking between ‘L’ cars, seriously injuring him and endangering bystanders.
Streetsblog reached out to Vallas’ campaign for more info about his transportation positions, and a spokesperson provided a statement. “The increase in traffic crashes and fatalities for all modes since COVID is unacceptable,” the statement read. “Vision Zero needs to be re-started and [Vallas’] administration will focus on getting attention to the dramatic rise in crash rates.”
The statement also noted that CTA ridership is still only at about half of pre-pandemic levels, which is a major problem. “We are a city that is very focused on reducing our carbon footprint, so these trends must be dealt with. We must do what we can to make the CTA safe, and reliable so that ridership returns.” The campaign pointed to Vallas’ goal of adding more police to the system.
“We will also expand on the success of the pilot program to have social services meet the homeless as they are doing at Midway and O’Hare stations and do that at all terminals and throughout the Loop,” the campaign stated. “Anywhere the homeless and helpless are gathering – we want to meet them with appropriate care and encourage them to get the help they need.” They added that they plan to fix faulty security cameras in the transit system.
As for bike and bus lane enforcement, the statement said, “We are going to work with the police and try different infrastructure improvements to keep these lanes clear. Our city has a fantastic lay out, and we need to improve bike, pedestrian and public transit use and reverse the downward trend in [transit] ridership since COVID began.”
Follow Imelda March on Twitter at @hcram1.
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