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Transit boards overwhelmingly male, whiter than ridership

Chicago Reader

The boards of directors for the Chicago area's four transit agencies—the CTA, Metra, Pace, and the Regional Transportation Authority—make decisions about policy, fares, service, and senior leadership that affect all of us who ride public transportation. But in general the members of the boards don't reflect the diverse demographics of the region.

Three of the four boards skew much whiter than the populations they serve, and all of the rosters are overwhelmingly male. Local transit advocates and politicians say that's a problem, because when the folks who make choices about buses and trains aren't representative of the people who ride them, their priorities may not always reflect customers' real-life needs.

Transit leadership that isn't diverse is a nationwide issue, as highlighted by a recent blog post by Julia Ehrman of the TransitCenter foundation (a former Streetsblog Chicago funder). Ehrman compared boards in Atlanta, Boston, and Portland, Oregon, to the demographics of their service areas and customers and found that in most cases people of color and women were significantly underrepresented.

Why does this matter? ...

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