Earth Day 2019: Check Out Kane County’s Not-So-Secret, Totally Awesome Sustainable Transportation
- The Kane County Division of Environmental and Water Resources and Kane County Connects are “Counting Down to Earth Day” with a series of 16 articles on “Going Green” in 2019. This article is No. 13 on the countdown and was contributed by Ryan Peterson and Troy Simpson with the Kane County Division of Transportation.
Sustainable and active transportation has become a popular topic in recent years, due to an increasing emphasis on cities becoming more environmentally friendly and livable.
Sustainable transportation refers to any means of transportation that have a lower impact on the environment, and active transportation refers to any means of transportation which involve some level of physical activity. Some examples of sustainable transportation include bicycling, walking, public transportation (buses, trains), carpooling, car sharing, and green vehicles (solar or electric vehicles).
Here in Kane County, residents have a variety of commuting options that would qualify as sustainable transportation, active transportation, or both.
Metra! Take It Easy, Enjoy The Ride
The most frequented sustainable transportation option is the Metra commuter train service. On a daily basis, Metra has more than 6,400 riders boarding trains from stations located in Kane County.
Metra serves Kane County with three lines: the BNSF Railway (Aurora), the Milwaukee District West line (Elgin, Big Timber, and National Street), and the Union Pacific West line (Elburn, La Fox, and Geneva).
In addition to Metra service, there are also a number of bus services in Kane County.
Pick Up The Pace!
Pace Bus is a regional public transportation provider that helps thousands of residents reach their daily destinations. Pace operates three types of bus service within Kane County, those being fixed-route, on-demand, and express service.
According to data provided by Pace staff, there are 38 fixed Pace bus routes that have stops within Kane County, the majority of services being in Aurora and Elgin, with regional north-south connectors serving the Fox River Valley.
Pace On-Demand service, which allows riders to book a ride via telephone or online in advance, operates in Aurora, Batavia, and St. Charles-Geneva.
Pace Express service, which allows riders to park their car in a secure parking lot and ride to the O’Hare CTA station for only $2 on the Ventra card or $2.25 in cash, makes rush hour trips from the Elgin Transportation Center along the Jane Addams Tollway shoulder “flex lane” as well as the Pace park-n-rides at Randall Road and IL Route 25.
To learn more about all the services that Pace offers, visit the Pace website.
Kane County boasts an abundance of recreational offerings that support sustainable and active transportation, the most notable being the extensive bike and walking trails throughout the region.
Kane County is home to four major regional trails: the Fox River Trail, Illinois Prairie Path, Great Western Trail, and the Virgil L. Gilman Trail. Check out the KKCOM Bike & Pedestrian App to see all of the trails in the County and region!
Despite the County’s variety of transportation offerings, it still lags behind other counties in the Chicago region in sustainable commuting practices.
According to data provided by the American Community Survey, 89.81 percent of Kane County commuters choose to commute via automobile. This mark is one of the highest rates in the region and much higher than the state average of 81.31 percent.
With transportation now the largest source of carbon emissions and urban air pollution in the country making a switch to sustainable transportation is vital to increasing the sustainability of our built environment.
For the vast majority, the most enticing benefit to switching to walking, biking, or public transportation as a primary mode of commuting is the amount of money that can be saved.
For those commuting to downtown Chicago on a daily basis, switching to taking the Metra train can save up to $8,000 on an annual basis. In addition to the cost savings, the Regional Transportation Authority offers a Transit Benefit program that allows employees to pay for transit fares using pre-tax dollars.
What You Can Do
While making changes to commuting patterns can yield positive financial and environmental impacts, the largest single impact can come from the short trips that most take with their automobile.
Nationwide, more than 35 percent of all vehicle trips are under two miles, with the majority of these trips being taken with an automobile. By replacing these short trips with other forms of transportation, benefits can be seen far beyond those which are financial.
By increasing our sustainable mode share, we can reduce negative impacts on our environment, reduce stress on local roadways, generate safer outcomes for bicyclists and pedestrians, develop healthier outcomes for residents, and decrease congestion.
Read The Countdown to Earth Day Series!
- No. 16: Introduction to Earth Day — Let’s Focus on Working Together! (Jessica Mino)
- No. 15: Stop Volcano Mulching! It Does More Harm Than Good! (Valerie Blaine)
- No. 14: Slow Down! We’ve Got Turtles Crossing Here! (Pam Otto)