Campaign taps commuters’ complaints on social media to push for transit funding

CHICAGO — Whether it’s potholes on the streets, crammed cars on the rails or buses that never appear on time, there's no shortage of frustrations faced by commuters on a daily basis.

While plenty turn to social media to vent their frustration, that doesn't really help solve the problem. Bad publicity can put some pressure on officials to do better, but most posts are lost in the digital shuffle.

Instead, a new campaign by the Metropolitan Planning Council calls on commuters to post photos and videos of issues to social media and tag them with #bustedcommute to strengthen their case for more transportation funding.

Audrey Wennink, Director of Transportation for the MPC, says the social media campaign is an effort to collect pictures, videos and stories the council can take to Springfield to push for more transportation funding.

"We wanna give people a way to do more than just complain to their neighbor, but to do something that will make things better," Wennink said. "We have not raised our funding for state transportation in almost 30 years, and we can see that out there."

Since #bustedcommute started, images of out-of-service signs, packed train platforms and massive potholes have hit social media.

"We’re hearing about the horrible Metra station that's really degraded and crumbling, all the way to the huge potholes, to the CTA train that is so old the doors stuck during rush hour and 10 other trains are stacking up behind it," she said.

Wennink says the state needs $43 billion over the next 10 years to get our transportation system up to par, and the infrequent capital bills we’ve used in the past won’t fill the states' needs.

Since 2012, 31 states have approved plans to raise additional transportation revenue. Last year California, Indiana, Montana, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia did so in part by raising gas taxes, something Gov. Rauner is firmly against.

But Wennink says with the state of our system, many people are willing to spend a little more to save on vehicle damage— and their sanity.

"It’s gotten to the point where people want better conditions and they’re ready to advocate for that, even if its even if we have to tax ourselves a little bit more," she said. "This is not fun and games; this is peoples lives, their jobs to be able to get home for daycare pick up their kids at daycare."