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The City
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Yeah, it's not gonna happen any time soon. But it has officially been brought up by a major city official--mark the date :cheers:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-congestionjun14,1,315241.story?coll=chi-news-hed
City to consider 'congestion fee' on downtown drivers

By Gary Washburn
Tribune staff reporter
Published June 13, 2007, 6:44 PM CDT
Should motorists pay a toll for the privilege of driving in Chicago's central business district?

Ald. Edward Burke (14th) believes it's a good time to raise the question.

Burke on Wednesday introduced a resolution calling for a City Council hearing on the feasibility of levying a "congestion fee" on drivers who set tire downtown.

"Can it reduce pollution? Can it reduce traffic? Can it raise a revenue stream to help out the beleaguered CTA?" Burke asked. "It's certainly a very complicated issue and one that should not be rushed into. But I thought that as long as London is doing it, as long as New York is [proposing] it, perhaps it is an idea that Chicago ought to consider."

How much would be charged, how would tolls be collected and how much money might be generated for the cash-strapped CTA are the types of information the alderman hopes to gather by listening to experts at the hearing.

Mayor Richard Daley said he has an open mind on the congestion-fee concept. But he also has reservations.

With their narrow streets and absence of alleys, London and New York are "completely different" from Chicago, he said.

"Are you going to put [the fee] on all the aldermen who drive every day?" Daley asked. "What about all the trucks coming downtown? What do you do with them?"

"Let's not rush to that and scare everybody off," the mayor declared. "We are trying to keep businesses here and . . . move businesses into the city."
 

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The City
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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
One other way to look at it:

Let the city for once take its transit woes by the reins. The state is busy fartin' away in Springfield accomplishing a whole lotta NADA.

Whether or not you like this idea, one thing for sure is that it's a good sign that light bulbs are coming on and people are finally 1) thinking about (and voicing) ways to fund transit that don't depend on the state legislature and 2) recognizing transit's fundamental funding deficiencies more and more.
 

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no question about it: our downtown streets are far too congested and further congestion could lead to total gridlock. yes, something needs to be done.

yet radical decisons scare me, too. anything that imposes restraint on the use of automobiles (despite their being ill-suited for the core of our city) could lead us to "be careful what you wish for..."

the solution: let Manhattan be the laboratory and the testing ground.

Manhattan's needs for car restriction are unmatched and unparalleled in the nation. Manhattan currently faces the negative side of cars-in-cities to a far greater degree than any US city. And Manhattan is the first that would hit paralysis if paralysis driven by a car ever comes. In Manhattan, it looks likely it will.

New York has always been the ultimate urban laboratory (I chauvenistically like to believe Chicago comes in at second place). Let NYC try the things that in its case need to be done and let Chicago study and learn from its example. This is one instance when I think that is more than apporpriate to defer to the Big Apple which has to grapple with this idea far more than we do and to use Manhattan as our case study.
 

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My Mind Has Left My Body
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Tax Loop drivers?

Sun-Times take....

http://www.suntimes.com/news/transportation/427748,CST-NWS-pay14.article

Tax Loop drivers?
CITY COUNCIL | Burke proposes downtown fee to fund CTA, but Daley in no rush


June 14, 2007
BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter [email protected]

Motorists who insist on driving in downtown Chicago should pay a London-style "congestion fee" -- now $16 a day there -- to ease traffic jams, reduce air pollution and provide a bonanza of sorely needed funding for the CTA, the City Council's most influential alderman said Wednesday.

Finance Committee Chairman Edward M. Burke (14th) wants City Council hearings, to at least explore the possibility of charging motorists for the privilege of driving downtown.

London started in 2003 with a congestion fee of 5 pounds, roughly $10, that has since been raised to 8 pounds or $16.

On Earth Day, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed an $8 fee on cars and $21 on trucks that drive in congested Lower Manhattan south of 86th Street to raise $400 million for public transportation projects in the first year alone. The New York Legislature is considering the idea.

"It's certainly a very complicated issue and not one that can be rushed into. But, I thought as long as London is doing it, as long as New York is doing it, that perhaps it's an idea that Chicago ought to consider," Burke said.

"It would reduce the number of automobiles coming into the Central Business District. And No. 2, it could provide a revenue stream for public transit."

Mayor Daley said he has "an open mind" about the idea. But he was clearly just mouthing the words.

The mayor noted that London is a city "built centuries ago" with narrow streets and no alleys. "I'm just saying it's completely different. Let's not rush to that and scare everybody off. We're trying to keep businesses here and constantly move businesses into the city and relocate businesses," Daley said.

"Are you gonna put it on all the aldermen [who] drive down every day? Do you start off with them? ... Can citizens drive down from [elsewhere in] the city? Are they excluded? ... How about all the trucks coming downtown? ... That's what you have to look at."

Jerry Roper, president of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, wondered aloud whether "commerce would be charged to drive on the streets" of downtown Chicago. A congestion fee could also have a devastating impact on tourism, he said.

Taxis, buses, hybrids excluded?

Burke said public hearings would determine the amount of the congestion fee, the precise boundaries of the so-called "Chicago Green District" and the method of enforcement. Exemptions could be made for taxis, buses and "environmentally friendly hybrid vehicles," he said.

London's congestion fee is enforced by 230 surveillance cameras positioned at entry and exit points to the zone and at key locations within the zone. Cameras record traffic images and send them to a central processor that reads the license plates and cross-checks them against the list of vehicles that have purchased the daily congestion pass.

If a pass has not been purchased in advance for that license plate and is not purchased by midnight of the day of travel, the vehicle's registered owner gets a ticket in the mail.

What about those who consider a congestion fee here a back-door city income tax on suburbanites who work in Chicago?

"One could argue that, since they're using our streets and not paying the wheel tax that Chicago residents pay, that it would be a fair way of spreading around the responsibility for funding some of our expenses," Burke said.





http://www.suntimes.com/news/transportation/427746,CST-NWS-pqanda14.article

Congestion fees: So how would it work?

June 14, 2007

Where else has it been done?

Singapore was the first city, London is the largest, and Stockholm launched a pilot program last year.

New York's legislature is considering an $8 fee on cars and $21 fee on trucks that drive in congested Lower Manhattan to raise money for public transportation projects. The fee would only apply on weekdays and during peak hours.

How does it work in London?

Fees for entering central London were originally 5 pounds, or $10. Now they're 8 pounds, or $16.

Cameras record traffic images and send them to a central processor that reads the license plates and cross-checks them against the list of vehicles that have purchased the daily congestion pass.

If you don't have the pass, a ticket is mailed to the person registered to the vehicle.

What has been the impact?

London traffic delays dropped more than 20 percent. Singapore and Stockholm also saw improved traffic flow during peak hours.

How would it work in Chicago?

The proposed fee would apply to the Central Business District, and proceeds would go to the CTA. But it's not clear how much fees would be and whether taxis and trucks would be exempt.

Monifa Thomas



VIEW FROM THE DRIVER'S SEAT

How would you feel about Chicago imposing a London-style congestion fee to ease traffic jams and reduce pollution?
"I don't like it. It is another tax. I don't like it at all." -- Carlos Meza, 42, home rehabber, Lake in the Hills.

"It doesn't make sense. Why do it? Who owns the Loop? It's not fair." -- April Haydock, 24, spokesmodel, Lincoln Square.

"I don't like it. It sounds like it might be a lot. It sounds unfair. I have to pay a fee to come to the city to visit?" -- Cheryl Patterson, 45, personal shopper, Gary.

"I think it is crazy. I think it is insane. They should properly fund CTA first. Then people would use it." -- Elizabeth Williams, German language teacher, 28, Lincoln Square.




http://www.suntimes.com/news/nation/427495,CST-NWS-car14.article

More people are driving to work alone

June 14, 2007
BY STEPHEN OHLEMACHER

WASHINGTON -- More people than ever are driving alone to work as the nation's commuters balk at carpools and mass transit.

Regardless of fuel prices, housing and work patterns make it hard for suburban commuters to change their gas-guzzling ways.

From 2000 to 2005, the share of people driving alone to work increased slightly to 77 percent, according to a Census Bureau report Wednesday. Carpooling dropped and the share of commuters using public transportation stayed the same.

More recent statistics -- through March -- show that few drivers are cutting back despite gasoline prices topping $3 a gallon.

For most suburban commuters, "it's very hard to find someone to ride with, and it's very hard to find public transportation," said Alan Pisarski, author of "Commuting in America." "There aren't always a lot of options for people."

People have been flocking to the suburbs since the end of World War II. Jobs have followed, enabling commuters to move even farther from central cities -- and public transportation systems.

Mass transit is most popular in older cities such as New York, San Francisco, Washington and Chicago, according the Census Bureau. Midwesterners are the most prone to solo driving -- half of the top 10 metro areas for driving alone to work are in Ohio.

Carpooling is most popular in the West, driven in part by immigrants. Seven of the top 10 metro areas for carpooling are in California. Most are in the center of the state, where a lot of immigrant farm workers share rides.

Ron Hughes runs a ride-sharing program in central California, about halfway between Fresno and Bakersfield. In 2000, the program started supplying vans to transport farm workers from the suburbs to the fields, he said. It has since grown to more than 300 vans and includes workers in other industries, operating much like a rural mass transit system, with riders paying $25 or more a week.

"It just grew, and we just added people and vans to meet that growing demand," said Hughes, executive director of the Kings County Area Public Transit Agency.

As for fuel prices, the average price of regular unleaded gasoline increased from $1.50 a gallon at the start of the decade to $2.28 a gallon in 2005, according to the American Automobile Association.

During the same period, the share of people carpooling dropped from 12.2 percent to 10.7 percent. The nation's public transportation systems report that ridership is up, but the share of commuters using transit stayed the same at 4.7 percent, according to the Census Bureau.

Gasoline prices have since topped $3 gallon. Miles driven by Americans increased through 2006, though they leveled off in the first three months of 2007, the Federal Highway Administration says.

The report on commuting came as the Senate started debating an energy bill this week that would raise auto fuel economy standards for the first time in nearly 20 years.

Democratic leaders in both the Senate and House say they want broad energy legislation passed before the Fourth of July congressional recess, though President Bush has opposed mandatory increases in fuel efficiency.

AAA spokesman Geoff Sundstrom said commuters are willing to drive more fuel-efficient autos but are loath to give up the keys entirely, regardless of gas prices. He said many people equate carpooling and mass transit with "a decline in their personal standard of living."

"The freedom of mobility that comes with the use of a personal automobile is something we are very, very reluctant to give up as individuals," Sundstrom said.

AP


Reader reactions......
http://blogs.suntimes.com/transportation/2007/06/congestion_pricing_idea_hits_c.html
 

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If it would go toward funding CTA only, I wouldnt have a problem with a $1-2 fee for entering the loop. We need to encourage people to take transit and fund it better at the same time.

BUT I dont see how they could impose it without causing even more traffic backed up on all major arteries entering the downtown area, and building toll booths and I-pass type lanes would be frickin expensive too.
 

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How would you tax them? Manhattan is an island with bridges you can easily monitor - and a handful of main streets coming south from 86th.

Chicago has DOZENS of streets entering the "downtown area".

Do you just charge people who cross the bridges into the loop? What about people entering from the south? It just seems like a very broad area to tax. If you don't watch all the enter points - people will just squeeze through any loophole and create crazy traffic congestion at awkward small streets.

How does London do it?
 

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How would you tax them? Manhattan is an island with bridges you can easily monitor - and a handful of main streets coming south from 86th.

Chicago has DOZENS of streets entering the "downtown area".

Do you just charge people who cross the bridges into the loop? What about people entering from the south? It just seems like a very broad area to tax. If you don't watch all the enter points - people will just squeeze through any loophole and create crazy traffic congestion at awkward small streets.

How does London do it?
How long do you think I can stand at the top of the Wasington St exit from the Kennedy and collect tolls and get rich before the cops arrest me? My luck they'd have I-Pass and run me over!
 

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The City
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I'm guessing that all of the people who hate this idea are the same people who drive downtown every day.

I hope I'm wrong, because otherwise that is incredibly short-sighted and even a bit selfish.

It's not a God-given right, people. Lets stem the knee-jerk "higher fee? No way!" response and just think about how bad congestion and car-dependence is right now.

And blaming the CTA isn't working either, even though it feels good for some to always bad-mouth them. Nobody's giving them nada, and last time I checked there isn't a forest full of money-bearing trees out there ready to fund them.
 

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I'm guessing that all of the people who hate this idea are the same people who drive downtown every day.

I hope I'm wrong, because otherwise that is incredibly short-sighted and even a bit selfish.

It's not a God-given right, people. Lets stem the knee-jerk "higher fee? No way!" response and just think about how bad congestion and car-dependence is right now.

And blaming the CTA isn't working either, even though it feels good for some to always bad-mouth them. Nobody's giving them nada, and last time I checked there isn't a forest full of money-bearing trees out there ready to fund them.
what about the people that live there, like me? is that fair that I have to pay just to get home?
 

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I'm guessing that all of the people who hate this idea are the same people who drive downtown every day. I hope I'm wrong, because otherwise that is incredibly short-sighted and even a bit selfish.
Because, obviously, no one who has considered the matter could possibly reach a different conclusion than you.
 

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Even though I think there is no chance this would ever happen, I would love to see it (only if it was to help CTA). Also, would this be exclusive to the Loop? what areas are they considering?

My only concern is that this would drive business out of Downtown in the long run.
 

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I don't think we should go through the expense of installing tolling areas and cameras to achieve a revenue stream. It works this way in London because the congestion zone is rather large and central city public transit is great. With Chicago's lower density and deficient infrastructure, I don't see our congestion zone being as large.

Simple solution: tax the parking facilities where people park within the designated zone an additional $5-$10 per 24-hour spot. Don't charge through traffic because I can't really blame people for using cars on long trips through the city due to the current state of the CTA.

Why don't we get a little income from the parking facilities to fund some reasonable improvements like a Metra BRT and the circle line first? Once the central transit infrastructure is sufficient and more people have moved into the central city, then maybe we could go one step further with a congestion charge.
 

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Chicago does not have anywhere near the expansive transit system these other cities have, to pull this off. Not to mention the car culture that exists in America. This seems to be knee-jerk and shortsighted. Maybe a few years down the road this could work but not now.
 

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what about the people that live there, like me? is that fair that I have to pay just to get home?
I was wondering about that as well cbotnyse. Would people already living in the downtown zone have to pay the fee to go in and out of the zone? If so it would be a gret way to draw in prosepctive condo buyers.

This policy would have major implications on downtown long term. We shouldn't be beset by ideology or emotionality about the issue. Calling people names or perforative terms will do nothing. If people are clueless, selfish, and whatever it will not matter one iota how true it may be if it is a factor in them deciding not buy a condo or locate their business downtown. One has to deal with how people are then how people will be. The city has tried to hard and come along too see it backslide if that would be the end result.

The thing to be done is how Daley is handling it so far. Talk about the pro/cons and observe and investigate in other cities where is tried. And don't just talk the advocates of the policy (Livenston) but both sides. Are Londons, Singapores, or Stockholms experiances applicable to Chicago's?

If a downtown circulator was implemented, all funds were transferred to mass transit capitol projects, and there were certain provisions for drivers (free for trucks, cabs, off peak time permitted, residents, green vechiles) and it was implemented gradually maybe it could work.
 
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