Batavia Mayor Jeff Schielke's tenure on the Pace board of directors now spans the tenure of three Kane County Board chairmen.
County board members reappointed Schielke to another term Tuesday. But the duration of that new term remains in limbo as lawmakers continue to ponder consolidation of the local mass transit boards.
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Schielke became Kane County's representative to the board in 2002. As the sitting mayor of Batavia, Schielke is one of the few people qualified to receive the appointment. All Pace directors must be either current or former mayors. Directors also receive a $10,000 salary.
Schielke said it's the experience of being a high-level elected official that's helped the Pace board avoid the pitfalls seen on the RTA and Metra boards.
"It's not like (the appointing bodies) just picked somebody politically off the street who was a friend of somebody," Schielke said. "The directors understand their own budgets and taxation. They understand the system, and the ramifications of their actions."
Schielke's appointment runs until June, 2018. But that's only true if state lawmakers decide not to follow a recommendation made by Gov. Pat Quinn's Northeastern Illinois Public Transit Task Force in April. The task force advised eliminating the RTA and combining the Pace board with the CTA and Metra into one mega board.
"Consolidation is not my call," Schielke said. "That will be made by the members of the Illinois General Assembly. But they can't say the Pace board is just sitting there doing nothing."
He pointed to a restructuring of Pace bus routes in Elgin and Aurora when he first came to the board more than 10 years ago.
"We put the routes in places where people really wanted to go," Schielke said.
The next step is expanding Kane County's access to Chicago, he said. That includes adding a Pace route along Randall Road that will take passengers to both O'Hare International Airport via a new connector at the former Des Plaines Oasis on I-90, and to CTA facilities in downtown Chicago via connections to trains and buses in Rosemont.
To accomplish that, Pace needs permission from the state to drive buses on the shoulder of I-90 to reach those destinations in a timely fashion. Pace buses already use the shoulder on I-55.
"They are building those shoulders on I-90 as we speak," Schielke said. "Every conversation I've had with the members of the legislature and the governor's office have been pretty positive. I haven't seen anybody try to put any infringements on it."