The Blueprint for the Future
Purpose of Vision 2020
Pace's vision for the future is to provide a publicly acceptable level of efficient suburban mobility. This Vision 2020 plan represents the blueprint for Pace's vision, and describes how Pace intends to achieve this objective. It calls for a network of new services, infrastructure improvements, and a decrease in travel times. Although challenging, this plan will bring Pace into the future, making viable public transportation available to the region.
Pace’s vast service area covers six counties and 3,446 square miles, and encompasses a wide range of demographic groups, activity centers, travel patterns, and development patterns. More than 270 municipalities, townships, and other units of local government are represented, each with its own unique character, history, and travel needs.
The Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission (NIPC) estimates the population of Pace’s service area to be approximately 5.2 million and expects it to grow to more than 6.2 million by 2020. As jobs and housing have increasingly relocated to the suburbs in the last several decades, the physical separation of residential and employment locations has increased. Commuters experience this as longer work trips. Growing population and longer trips lead to more traffic congestion. The Chicago Area Transportation Study (CATS) estimates that traffic congestion in the Chicago region has increased by more than 100% in the past two decades. The percent of lane-miles congested in the Chicago region grew from 32% in 1982 to 65% in 1999. Miles traveled on congested roadways are forecast to grow by 60% between 1996 and 2020, and time spent traveling is forecast to jump 44% between 1996 and 2020.
Likewise, the growing suburban job market and the national welfare-to-work initiative have created demand for transit services that connect locations in the City of Chicago with widely distributed suburban employers. The last two decades have seen a shift in employment to the suburbs and more various work hours. Pace's success depends on how effectively it serves these changing travel needs.
The region’s growth in population and jobs has mostly been occurring in the suburban “ring”, rather than the Chicago central area. The net result of these factors has been an increase in single-occupant automobile use and a decline in air quality. At the same time, there has been less public support of new, large highway improvement projects, and more support for the concept of “smart growth” concepts. These concepts include environmentally sensitive land development, minimizing dependence on private automobile transportation, reducing air pollution, and making infrastructure investments more efficient. In light of these factors, Pace must enhance its transit services to meet the needs of suburban economic development and travel markets.