Event Detail

Public Transit in a Post-COVID World: Building a Financially Stable, Equitable and Accessible Mass Transit System in Chicago and Beyond

Event on April 13, 2023


The Civic Federation is pleased to partner with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and the Civic Committee to co-host a transportation forum on Thursday, April 13, 2023: “Public Transit in a Post-COVID World: Building a Financially Stable, Equitable and Accessible Mass Transit System.” The half-day conference will be held from 8:15 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, 230 S. LaSalle Street. This will be a hybrid event with both in-person and remote options for attendance.

In-person registration will close on April 6.

To register for the event, click here

For the conference agenda, click here.

For more information about the speakers, click here.

A video recording of the full conference can be found here.


8:15 a.m. to 8:45 a.m.

Registration and Continental Breakfast

8:45 a.m. to 9:15 a.m.

Welcome Remarks:

History of Mass Transit Funding in the Chicago Region

Sarah Wetmore, Acting President, Civic Federation

9:15 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.


9:30 a.m. to 10:45 a.m.

Panel 1: Solving the Transit Funding Riddle in Northeast Illinois and Beyond

Transit systems across the United States face prolonged ridership shortfalls, safety concerns and a federal funding cliff after COVID-19 relief funds are expended. If the Regional Transportation Authority and its service boards are to weather the storm, it will require an all hands on deck approach, including coordination between transit agencies and the General Assembly, the Governor and local governments. What would an ideal and sustainable governance and funding structure look like? Can the CTA, Metra and Pace sustain service levels and avoid fare hikes? How can riders’ safety be enhanced?


  • The Honorable Julie Hamos, Former Chair of the Illinois House of Representatives Mass Transit Committee


  • The Honorable Ram Villivalam, Illinois State Senator, 8th District
  • Joseph Schwieterman, Professor in the School of Public Service & Director of the Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development, DePaul University
  • Andrew Ward, Group Credit Officer for US Public Finance, Fitch Ratings

10:45 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.


11:00 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

Panel 2: Envisioning a Mass Transit System that Promotes Equity, Opportunity and Economic Growth

Mass transit can be a powerful driver of economic development and increased equity. Who should transit serve? What is the business community’s role in promoting a strong and equitable transit, commuter rail and paratransit system? What are the best roles of federal, state and local governments in funding, governance and planning? This discussion will center on lessons learned in Chicago, Washington and San Francisco.


  • Tom Kotarac, Senior Vice President, Transportation and Infrastructure, Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago


  • Erin Aleman, Executive Director, Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning
  • Sharon Carney, Chief of Staff, Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, Washington, DC
  • Bob Dean, Chief Strategy and Program Officer, Center for Neighborhood Technology
  • Georgia Gann Dohrmann, Assistant Director, Metropolitan Transportation Commission, San Francisco

12:15 p.m. to 12:30 p.m.


12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Luncheon and Keynote Address:

The Future of Public Transit: Which Problem Should We Be Trying to Solve?

Joshua Schank, Managing Principal, InfraStrategies LLC, Los Angeles

If you have any questions about the forum, please contact Annie McGowan at amcgowan@civicfed.org or (312) 690-8772.

We hope to see you there!