Should the CTA Be Free, Like in Estonia?

A Chicago Transit Authority bus is seen Monday, Dec. 20, 2004 in Chicago.
A Chicago Transit Authority bus is seen Monday, Dec. 20, 2004 in Chicago. AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh
A Chicago Transit Authority bus is seen Monday, Dec. 20, 2004 in Chicago.
A Chicago Transit Authority bus is seen Monday, Dec. 20, 2004 in Chicago. AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

Should the CTA Be Free, Like in Estonia?

At a planning council discussion of Chicago segregation, community organizer Jahmal Cole proposed a bold idea to improve the quality of life for low-income Chicagoans: make the CTA free. While free public transportation may seem like a pipe dream, particularly with Illinois’ budget problems, it’s not without precedent: Chapel Hill, NC has a free regional transit system, Seattle used to have free downtown transit, and Estonia’s capital city recently rolled out a free transit service for residents.

John Greenfield, a transportation columnist for the Chicago Reader and the editor of Streetsblog Chicago, and James Porter, a Streetsblog reporter and lifelong expert on navigating the city by CTA, join us to discuss the idea of free transit.