Sen. Ram Villivalam

SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Ram Villivalam’s comprehensive public transit plan and commuter benefits legislation were signed into law Friday.

“As we work on a comprehensive solution to address the funding challenges that our major public transit agencies are facing, these laws are critical first steps to making our public transit operations more accessible, equitable, environmentally conscious, transparent and safer,” said Villivalam (D-Chicago). “These laws will significantly assist the hundreds of thousands of riders who use Illinois transit every day and encourage more residents to do the same."

House Bill 1342 allows public transit agencies to suspend riders if the rider commits assault, battery, sexual assault or violations of public indecency toward an employee or another commuter. It also provides for a formal appeals process.

To help survivors of domestic violence seek the services they need and deserve, the legislation requires the Regional Transportation Authority to distribute 25,000 pre-loaded $20 fare cards to domestic violence service providers. Villivalam’s law also provides for reduced fares for youth as they travel to and from their place of employment. Further, CTA, PACE and METRA are required to purchase buses that are zero-emission come July 1, 2026, which puts the state on a clearer path to achieve the climate goals that residents are advocating for.

House Bill 2068 requires employers to allow employees to use pre-tax earnings on a transit pass that would be deducted through the employee’s payroll before tax, lowering the tax burden for both the employer and employee.

The covered employer must be located in Cook County or specified townships in collar counties, have at least 50 full time employees, and be located at an address within one mile of a transit service. Under the new law, the Regional Transit Authority will create a publicly searchable map of addresses that are located within one mile of a transit service.

“We are looking at every community across Illinois to ensure their transit options are accessible and affordable,” Villivalam said. “I am honored to have pushed for improvements to safety and increased accessibility for transit as we work to find ways to help our residents who ride Illinois transportation every day.”

House Bill 1342 and House Bill 2068 were signed into law on Friday.