The Village of Skokie, Illinois, conducted The National Community Survey (The NCS) by Polco. The Village uses survey results to inform strategic plans, budgets, and more.
Results showed residents rate their community’s public transportation much higher than the national average.
Public transportation is a key component in Village plans. The transit system is well-connected and streets are walkable. Plus, decision-makers listen to residents on how they can improve mobility.
The Village’s commitment to service and the well-liked public transportation won Skokie a 2022 year Voice of the People Award (VOP) for Excellence in Mobility. The Voice of the People Awards, presented in partnership with the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), are the only national awards given to local governments based on resident feedback.
Skokie's Public Transportation is Top-rated
Public transportation ridership plummeted during the pandemic and has yet to recover. But in the Village of Skokie, Illinois, residents love their public buses.
Skokie is a diverse community of over 67,000 residents just 16 miles north of Downtown Chicago and the Sears Tower. Many locals and neighboring residents travel to and from Skokie to Chicago for work and entertainment on the Village buses.
“When it comes to Cubs games or Bears games, or anyone trying to get to events in Chicago, Skokie becomes a [transportation] hub,” said Alex Franz, Skokie Management Analyst.
The Village’s public transportation is rated among the best in the nation by residents, according to The National Community Survey (The NCS) results. The NCS is an assessment that reports community opinions about livability and government service delivery in the city.
Skokie’s results show around 80% of residents approve of the Village’s overall bus and transit services. And nearly 70% approve of the ease of travel by transit services. That’s over 30% better than the national average in both categories. And plenty of Skokie residents walk to get around and use the Village’s bike paths too.
How Skokie Excels in Public Transportation and Mobility
Skokie’s urban-like design contributes to the Village’s emphasis on public transportation. Franz says Skokie looks and feels like Chicago with its smaller lot sizes, bungalow-style homes, and a city-like grid roadway system. (One of the Village’s slogans is “Putting the urban in the suburban.”)
Franz says transportation is a focus area in all the Village’s planning, including a transportation section in a new Environmental Sustainability Plan.
Today, the Village has seven Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) bus stops. CTA is the second-largest public transit system in the nation. There are 10 Pace suburban bus system lines. The Pace line connects O’Hare International Airport and the Village of Skokie with limited stops to improve travel time. The Skokie Swift, part of Chicago’s “EL” rapid transit system, connects passengers from Skokie directly to the Loop in Downtown Chicago. There is also plenty of convenient parking.
“The ability to be connected to so many different transportation options is why I believe we got that high ranking,” Franz said.
According to the survey, 83% of residents approve of the overall mobility of Skokie.
Both ease of walking and ease of biking score higher than the national average as well. There are 24,000 households and 2,400 businesses in a 10.5-square-mile radius, which puts many necessities within walking distance. Skokie’s Complete Streets Plan prioritizes pedestrian and bicycle transportation for individuals of all ages and disabilities. The Village also has 45 miles of bike paths that connect through the northern suburban area past Chicago and into some southern suburbs. A Village’s Bikeway System Plan aims to create even more bike paths and racks to encourage green public transportation initiatives.
“Any transportation option is very strong here,” Franz said.
The Village of Skokie Prioritizes Resident Service
Even though the Village scores high for mobility, officials continue to make improvements based on community’ needs.
“Our Village Board listens to the needs of the community,” Franz said. “How we allocate resources reflects all that.”
The NCS has helped identify those priorities, including transportation needs.
Franz says each survey year Skokie decision-makers review result trends to see what they can do better. Leaders assess what areas fell behind, and where the Village excels in order to continue that success.
A few years ago, Franz said The NCS results showed residents wanted Skokie to focus more on street repair. The Village now strives to resurface 7 miles of road each year. Then, resident street repair approval ratings increased after officials made the change.
“Skokie is a very responsive government,” Franz said. “We pride ourselves on that customer service, which I think contributes to the high scores overall.”
Learn What Community Priorities Are Most Important to Your Residents
You can move mountains when government and resident priorities align. Polco can help you engage with the community to discover what’s most important to them, so you know where to focus your budgets and plans and solve problems together. Connect with one of our engagement expertsto learn more.