Transportation Equity Network

Photo by Maarten van den Heuvel on Unsplash

The Transportation Equity Network (TEN) is a coalition of community groups, equitable transportation advocates, civic organizations, and other stakeholders in Chicago and suburban Cook County who will work with decision-makers to embed racial equity and mobility justice into transportation via community-driven decisions and investments.

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Inequitable access to high-quality transportation options has prevented growth and investment in Black and Brown communities and low-income communities. With the persistence of serious racial and economic inequities, along with the election of equity-forward public officials and significant technological changes to our transportation system, there is call for a deliberate and coordinated approach to increase transportation equity and, as a result, improve life outcomes for communities that have historically been marginalized.

 Screenshot of TEN partners meeting with Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) leadership on the 2021 Strategic Plan.

Project Overview

The Transportation Equity Network (TEN) project is building a coalition of community groups, equitable transportation advocates, local leadership, and others to serve as a network of organizations to work with decision-makers to embed racial equity and mobility justice into transportation decisions and investments. Black and Brown representatives of community groups hold the majority of leadership positions within the coalition.

This project is a long-term effort, meant to build and manage a network that influences transportation decision-making in a lasting way. TEN focuses on pressing topics such as: advocating for equitable decision-making processes, transportation improvements without displacement, and preserving and reframing transit service in the context of COVID-19.

The TEN network actively convenes its members, participates in city, county, regional, statewide, and national forums, responds to requests for assistance and information from community groups or the media, and conducts policy analysis and advocacy, among other activities.

Community & Beneficiaries

TEN represents the needs of people in Chicago and Cook County that have suffered from inequitable transportation access or have been negatively impacted by past decisions. There are currently over 30 organizational members of the coalition that officially formed back in May 2020.  TEN has developed an organizational structure that positions community-based organizations as decision-makers and has begun expanding the network based on this structure.

 

Leadership: Executive Committee

Co-Chairs
Jose Acosta, Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO)
Jacky Grimshaw, Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT)
Olatunji Oboi Reed, Equiticity
Lynda Lopez (former), Active Transportation Alliance

Committee Co-Chairs
Advocacy Committee
Jeremy Cuebas, Northwest Center
W. Robert Schultz III, Active Transportation Alliance

Capacity-Building Committee
Christian Diaz, Logan Square Neighborhood Association (LSNA)
Audrey Wennink, Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC)

Administrative Support
Bob Dean, Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT)
Heidy Persaud, Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT)

Outcomes

Short-term outcomes include a working coalition that meets regularly to coordinate efforts on transportation equity, inform ongoing transportation plans and projects in the city and region, to develop analytical and communication pieces to advance coalition priorities, to inform, build capacity, and engage communities participating in planning and decision-making, and to create an agenda for transportation equity in the Chicago region.

TEN will work towards long-term outcomes for the region to increase equitable community-driven investment. Our guiding goal is to reduce the racial wealth gap

caused in part by unequal transportation access. This broader outcome can be measured by progress toward several goals in low-income communities and communities of color: improved access by residents to regional assets, increased public sector investment in transportation infrastructure (but without displacement), improved access by local businesses to customers and suppliers, reduction in air pollution, increased healthy transportation choices, reduction in transportation costs, and many others. Ultimately, improvement in these measures will also lead to increased private investment in historically marginalized communities, bringing about comprehensive community-driven investment.

Priorities and Accomplishments

TEN has engaged in numerous individual projects, including:

  • Supporting the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) in development of its strategic plan. Following this activity, TEN is also assisting CDOT to understand the impacts of rail freight on Chicago communities, advising CDOT and the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) on improving street conditions for buses, and providing a community perspective on congestion management strategies.
  • Designing and then launching an equitable engagement program for the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) which will guide CMAP’s relationships with community groups. As an immediate application of this idea, TEN is also advising CMAP on re-envisioning the transportation system in the context of COVID-19.
  • Flyer for TENs co-sponsorship of LVEJO’s Southside Summit on Transportation.

  • Participated as a co-sponsor on LVEJO’s Southside Summit on Transportation to address negative outcomes of the Midwest’s freight system on Black and Latinx communities.
  • Advising Cook County Department of Transportation and Highways on involvement of community groups and equity considerations in countywide transit and bike plans.
  • In a project led by Equiticity, a co-chair of TEN, conceptualizing and developing a multimodal mobility hub in Chicago’s North Lawndale neighborhood.
  • Prioritizing post-COVID public transit needs and developing advocacy campaigns to push transit agencies in a pro-equity direction.
  • Provided feedback on the City of Chicago’s equitable transit-oriented development (eTOD) Policy Plan, developed in partnership with Elevated.
  • Profiled on the Energy Foundation’s website, “Paving an Equitable Transportation Path in the Midwest”.
  • In a project led by Equiticity, supported the “Biking Where Black” research webinar.

Participants

Funders

Funders of TEN to date include The Chicago Community Trust, Energy Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, McCormick Foundation, Verizon, and an anonymous family foundation. We thank each of these funders for their generous support. TEN has also secured contracts with the City of Chicago, Cook County, and Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning. The members of TEN are actively seeking funding from additional sources. Other foundations, individuals, governments, or corporate partners who wish to be early funders of this important initiative are welcome to contact us about sponsorship or participation.

Contact

To learn more about TEN, its members, and how you can be involved, please contact Heidy Persaud, Transportation Equity Director, at hpersaud@cnt.org.

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