Where do Trump and Clinton stand on making your commute better?

 
 
Updated 10/25/2016 5:15 PM
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  • Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton understand the need for a better transit system, Regional Transportation Authority Chairman Kirk Dillard says.

    Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton understand the need for a better transit system, Regional Transportation Authority Chairman Kirk Dillard says. Daily Herald File Photo

They may not ride in crammed trains or carry angst over potholes but feuding presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton both want to fix America's infrastructure.

The focus on improving public transit and highways couldn't come soon enough for local commuters, say two experts.

"There is a desperate need to invest more into mass transit in Chicagoland," Regional Transportation Authority Chairman and former state senator Kirk Dillard said.

"Most states significantly assist in the mass transit arena, but that is not the case today in Illinois," Dillard added, noting New York City budgets about $196 per capita on mass transit compared to $80 here.

Republican Trump promises to spend $1 trillion on infrastructure over 10 years. Democrat Clinton proposes allocating $275 billion over five years and creating an "infrastructure bank" that could offer $225 billion in loans for local projects. Neither candidate has offered specific details on how to pay for their programs.

Trump, though, says his plan would be revenue-neutral and supported by leveraging "public-private partnerships, and private investments through tax incentives."

Clinton says she will use business tax reforms to raise revenues.

"What concerns me is that both candidates have spent a limited time talking about transportation," Metropolitan Planning Council President MarySue Barrett said. "We need roads and we need a strong highway system, but we also need improved and expanded transit options and options for walking and biking."

Clinton's overall infrastructure agenda includes clean water, high-speed internet access and clean energy. She is promising to fix deteriorating roads and reduce gridlock, invest in commuter rail, and speed up installing "NextGen" satellite technology to move air traffic more efficiently.

Trump has a broad infrastructure plan seeking to ensure clean drinking water and expand energy projects such as the Keystone pipeline. He intends to repair dangerous bridges and upgrade "Third World" airports. "No one can build better than I can; nobody knows construction like I do," Trump told FoxBusiness.

Whoever is president needs to resolve the decline in gas taxes, which fund transportation, caused by more fuel-efficient cars hybrids and electric vehicles, experts say.

That trend means that while the Illinois tollway can pay for a massive road-building program, the state is hard-pressed to modernize vital corridors like the Eisenhower Expressway, Barrett said.

"It doesn't make sense that we are limited in thinking about what the region needs based on whose turf you are talking about," Barrett said.

Dillard worries the GOP Party platform proposes phasing out transit funding but noted that Trump disagrees with his fellow Republicans on that issue.

Both candidates, Dillard said, "understand the need for mass transit and how a new generation of workers lives in a world of mass transit, Uber, Lyft, Zipcars and Divvy bikes."

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