HINSDALE – After resigning his state senate seat Sunday in a move to take over as chairman of the Regional Transportation Authority, Kirk Dillard wasted no time laying out goals and expectations for the organization that oversees the nation's second largest mass transit system.
Among the number of goals the former state senator of 20 year has set for himself, Dillard said he wants to make traveling throughout Chicagoland possible through a singular payment system.
“I need to get in there and just see what technologies are being used so that we have one universal system,” Dillard said.
He pointed out that, as a commuter himself, getting from one place to another can be difficult when using different parts of the mass transit system means paying for service in different ways.
Currently buying tickets to use the Metra trains is run through Metra, while Pace bus payment and paying to use the Chicago Transit Authority are run through Ventra.
Dillard said the solution would be to have “a seamless system of mass transit for our commuters.”
Although past chairmen of the Regional Transportation Authority have often had trouble getting the boards of Metra, Pace and the CTA to come together as all three are run independent of each other, Dillard is hopeful to improve upon that fissure.
“The RTA requires someone who is cross regional, can work in a bipartisan manner and bring people together,” Dillard said.
“I bring a proven ability to bring people in different regions together,” he said.
Along with moving toward a one-stop-shop system to pay for fares, Dillard said he wants to see more consistency out of Metra.
“The train always used to be on time; that’s not the case anymore,” he said. “When I have a meeting, I want to get there on time. At night, I want to get home and take care of my children.”
Dillard said part of getting everything to where it needs to be comes down to paying for it.
He explained that he would be traveling to Washington D.C. to make sure lawmakers there know that paying for the transportation authority in Chicago is a priority. He plans to do similar lobbying in Springfield.
Also, he said he will be traveling different cities in order to see how they run their transit systems, and that he has already visited Dallas.
“I was just looking at Dallas, with a little bit of envy, that they have some nice equipment,” he said.
But even as Chicago has its troubles, he pointed out that the system is pretty good.
“A mass transit system like Chicago is one of the reasons why we’re not like Detroit,” he said.
Prior to becoming chairman of the RTA, Dillard served in the Illinois Senate for more than 20 years. Before that, he served as chief of staff for Gov. Jim Edgar and as a legislative director for former Gov. Jim Thompson.
“I hope these skills are transferable – I hope they are – to being chairman of the Regional Transportation Authority,” he said.
Dillard replaces John Gates Jr. as chairman of the transportation authority. Gates stepped down after four years as chairman.
Chris Nybo, an Elmhurst Republican, will take over Kirk Dillard's more than 20 year reign in the Illinois Senate, representing the 24th District.
The 24th District includes all or parts of Hinsdale, Clarendon Hills, Willowbrook, Westmont, Darien, Downers Grove, Western Springs, Oak Brook, Oakbrook Terrace, Elmhurst, Lombard, Glen Ellyn, Wheaton and Lisle.