The American Public Transportation Association has awarded State Rep. Julie Hamos of Evanston its local distinguished service award for her leadership in winning state approval of transit funding and organizational reforms.

Rep. Hamos’ work was credited at the group’s annual meeting last week with narrowly averting drastic service cuts, higher fares and layoffs at Chicago-area mass transit agencies.

“Our public transportation system is vital to the quality of life and economic future of the entire Chicago region,” Chicago Mayor Richard Daley said.  “That is why Julie Hamos’ efforts to obtain critical operating funding and enact necessary reforms were so important to residents across Chicago and the region who depend on mass transit everyday.”

On Jan. 18, the Illinois General Assembly approved legislation providing annual, permanent funding to the Regional Transportation Authority, the CTA, Metra, and Pace.

It also made other reforms to the CTA’s pensions, the RTA’s oversight responsibilities, and the governing boards of the RTA and Metra.

Spearheaded by Hamos, the bill became law after nearly three years of intense political wrangling.

It was funded by a one-quarter percent increase in the regional sales tax.

“This award represents the culmination of extensive information gathering, relationship-building and problem-solving,” Hamos said. “I am proud to have led the key players to develop a comprehensive regional solution that will maintain the world-class transit system that is the backbone of northeastern Illinois.”

APTA is an industry group that includes public bus, rapid transit and commuter rail systems and the private businesses that supply them.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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