Over 50 thousand Illinois licenses are suspended each year because drivers can’t pay tickets, fines, or fees; or for other reasons unrelated to actual driving violations.
We do not believe that driver’s license suspension should be used to penalize people for their poverty. Transportation is critical for employment and success, and when licenses are taken away from good drivers and good workers, we all lose—job seekers, workers, employers, and the taxpayers paying to enforce counterproductive policies.
- Stripping people of their licenses causes job loss. A New Jersey study found that 42% of individuals lost their jobs following the suspension of their licenses. Research also shows car access increases the probability of being employed and leaving welfare.
- Unnecessary suspensions of safe drivers are a burden on the criminal justice system. 75% percent of suspended drivers continue to drive. Arresting and incarcerating good drivers strains already lean public safety budgets. On average, it takes about 9 hours to arrest and prosecute someone caught driving without a license.
- The impact is disproportionate. Black and Latino drivers are more likely than white drivers to be stopped by the police, to be fined or arrested for traffic offenses, and to suffer undue fines or incarceration.
Here’s what we’ve been doing to change this:
2019: We continue advocating to advance the License to Work Act, with a new webpage for the campaign at License2Work.org.
2018: We released the report “Living in Suspension,” detailing the dramatic consequences of driver’s license suspension policies in real peoples’ lives.
2017: Together with Heartland Alliance and other members of the Transit Table, CJC has worked to pass the License to Work Act, which eliminates driver’s license suspension as a penalty for most non-moving violations.
We also conducted a statewide survey to learn more about how suspended licenses impede job seeker success.
2016: CJC convened the Transit Table and began conversations with providers and policy advocates about addressing license suspension.
2015: CJC started hearing from our members in 2015 that suspended licenses were a huge barrier for job seekers. Wrote a number of blog posts as we learned more about the barrier through research and conversations with our members.
We believe public systems should work together to benefit the most disadvantaged communities. That’s why we have spent years working with CTA to improve services to nonprofit health and human service agencies that provide transportation assistance to their clients every day.
Nonprofit health and human service providers, most of whom receive public funding, are getting hit by an extra $0.50 fee on the single-use paper tickets they rely on to help their clients get to medical appointments, job interview, training programs, housing, and more. The fee adds up too. Nonprofits spend around $1.5 million every month on transportation assistance, and that fee is costing them hundreds of thousands of dollars, all for trying to help people in poverty.
Here’s what we’ve been doing to change this:
2017: After several delays, and years of asking for the system, CTA implemented a modernized online bulk purchase process for Ventra tickets.
2016: After a detailed survey of social service providers across the region, CJC released an in-depth report: The Hidden Cost of Ventra, detailing social service agencies’ continued struggles with long wait times for bulk ticket delivery, and the continued impact of the $0.50 fee on services.
Progress Illinois: Ventra Puts Financial, Administrative Burdens On Chicago-Area Social Service Providers, Report Finds
Streetsblog Chicago: Study: Ventra Fees Cost Social Service Providers 140,000 Bus Rides Per Year
WBEZ: Ventra Card Putting Financial Burden On Social Service Providers
Streetsblog Chicago: CTA: We Can’t Reduces Fees That Social Service Providers Pay on Ventra
Chicago Tribune: Social service agencies, homeless feel pinch of Ventra single-ride pass surcharge
2015: CJC continued to meet with CTA, providers, Chicago city agencies, aldermen, and other leaders making the case to improve Ventra from social service agencies.
2014: In January, the Tribune published “Ventra’s costs put nonprofits in a bind,” covering the impact the new system was having on workforce providers.
In the summer, CJC surveyed employment service providers to find out how the new system was going. Among the results: 54% of agencies that purchase Ventra tickets report that they reduced the level of transit assistance as a result of the $0.50 fee on Ventra tickets.
CBS Local: Survey: CTA Leaves Low-Income Chicagoans Behind With Ventra
Chicago Tribune: Survey: Ventra ticket fee impacting social service agencies
2013: CJC convened meetings with CTA, social service providers, and city departments to discuss coming changes to the CTA fare system. Providers made it clear from the start that single-ride tickets are critical for their programs, and that fare increases would reduce their services. CTA asked us to give the new system a chance, and many providers did.