Could Traffic Accidents in Naperville be Reduced by Naperville’s Proposed Transit Plan?

Transit is an alternative form of transportation, in addition to walking and biking, which the City of Naperville continues to explore and develop as part of its Comprehensive Transportation Plan. A well-developed transit system makes the City of Naperville and the surrounding DuPage Country and Will County area increasingly accessible to local residents. A transit system is desirable because it reduces traffic congestion, a problem which plagues Naperville’s growing population, which is predicted to increase to 155,000 by the year 2020 (approximately 100,000 Napervillians live in DuPage County, while about 45,000 reside in Will County) and has the potential to reduce automobile trips and thus reduce congestion, air pollution, wear and tear on roads and injury-producing car accidents.

For many in Naperville, public transit is a safe and an essential part of day-to-day life, carrying people from schools, to jobs, and to grocery stores. Such transportation services available to the public typically fall within two categories: generalized and specialized. Generalized transit, for example, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) and Metra, is available to the public and may include rail and bus services. Specialized transit on the other hand often includes car pools, school buses, and shuttles, and may have eligibility requirements.

Though Will and DuPage Counties have attempted to alleviate traffic congestion with roadway expansion projects, for example the Butterfield Road project, this approach alone will not solve the problem. Naperville has wisely opted for a multi-pronged approach, which addresses both roadway and public transit expansion. I believe this will have the intended effect of reducing reliance on cars and personal vehicles and also increase road safety. The DuPage Mayors and Managers Conference, of which the City of Naperville is a member, set forth the following objectives that relate to Naperville transit:

– Integrate transit services with all modes of the regional transportation system;
– Implement transit service to reduce or contain highway traffic congestion in select corridors, sub-areas or employment centers;
– Develop a sustainable transportation system in the DuPage Area challenges and opportunities related to providing transit service are presented;
– Establish and ensure an appropriate level of mobility for disadvantaged residents of the DuPage County area;
– Utilize public transit to link local and regional labor markets with hard-to-fill jobs in DuPage County; and,
– Utilize public transit and transit-oriented development (TOD) strategies to sustain
the economic vitality of mature downtowns and regional retail/commercial centers.

Because this plan will take time to implement, some objectives will be given higher priority. For example, the needs of the population without alternative transportation and those most dependent upon public transit, such as the elderly, will be addressed first. The next priority will be to focus on shifting travel patterns to increase the share of trips made by transit. In order to meet the City’s objectives, transit stops and the transit units themselves should meet certain criteria to attract and retain transit system users. There are opportunities to provide a variety of services at transit stops or transit centers. It is also possible to incorporate advertising into transit stops and centers as a method of generating revenue.

Why is transit important to reducing car accidents? Public safety is at the center of all transit system decisions. As a car accident lawyer, I know that the best way to reduce traffic accidents is to reduce vehicle traffic. In a time when so much attention is paid to vehicle fuel economy and reducing dependence on fossil fuels, I think it is equally important to consider the safety enhancements that public transit systems would provide to people in Naperville and the surrounding community.