Chicago Sun-Times

Congestion pricing idea hits City Council

| 106 Comments | No TrackBacks

Back in April, I asked if you thought the City of Chicago should consider congestion pricing to cut down on traffic in the city, similar to a proposal in New York. Well, now Ald. Ed Burke is backing the idea.

Today, Burke floated the idea of charging motorists a fee to drive into the city; the money would go to the CTA.

Think it'll work? London did it four years ago, resulting in a 20 percent decrease in traffic from 2003.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed an $8 congestion fee for driving into Manhattan. What would you be willing to pay to go to the Loop?

No TrackBacks

TrackBack URL: http://blogs.suntimes.com/cgi-bin/mt-tb.cgi/3250

106 Comments

The notion of a congestion tax is good in theory, but would be a very tough sell in reality. Comparing our city to London in this regard is off-base, primarily for two reasons. First, London maintains a robust and encompassing mass transit network, where people from across the metropolitan region have at least one, and usually multiple options available to traverse the city and suburban regions. Second, folks in the UK are much less reliant on their vehicle as the primary mode of transportation.

In contrast, Chicago's mass transit system is inefficient, in disrepair, underfunded, and is really only a viable option for those who travel to and from the Loop. A network of connections, such as the proposed Circle Line, would help alleviate this problem, but appears to not be a priority for the RTA, for reasons that are clear, if not misguided.

Additionally, Americans have an appetite for the vehicular mode of transportation, and specifically for larger auotmobiles that take up more space on our roads.

In summary, Alderman Burke's suggestion of a congestion tax only makes sense if there is a viable mass transit alternative. And by viable, it must be safe, efficient, reasonably priced, and available to the masses. Since the Chicago area's mass transit network fails to meet these standards, Burke's proposal is highly unrealistic.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!!!!!!!!!!!

Is anyone out there in internet-land aware of how expensive it is to live in Chicago? Maybe all of you who are in favor of this tax do not own property or a car or a dog. What next, will we have to pay to talk? Will we have to pay to breathe?

We are not Eupope and Chicago is not London. We are Americans and Chicagoians. We drive, we have no Tube system. The CTA is not only in a state of flux financially, but the services are inadequate. Those in CTA management are not doing a great job in managing the flow of services, nor are those who planned out the el--you cannot get everywhere in the city via el. This is just another example of a tax system that favors areas of high income in this city. If you happen to work in a bad neighborhood, too bad, you are stuck driving or face the crime. Not to mention the expense. I live in Hyde Park and work in North Lawndale, there is no el I can take that is safe. So my choices are 2-3 busses, the metra and 2 busses or drive. The first 2 will not only double my commute, but will waste the very energy that this tax is supposed to be impacting, I don't drive a hybrid, but I was very aware of buying a fuel effecient car. But most of all taking busses wastes time with my family, which is ABSOLUYTELY UNACCEPTABLE, driving is my only option.

So to Alderman Burke, who is an alderman WEST OF HYDE PARK, is not thinking of his constituants. His constituants don't even live in the loop!!!! He is not speaking for his people. The elevated train is not safe in his district, yet he is forcing these people to take it if they want a job that pays well. He could care less about traffic congestion in the loop, except that it would make his commute easier.

You know, I was born in this city, I love this city. I work everyday day to improve the health of the less fortunate in Chicago. This is my home. Every time a politician raises taxes, it takes away from money I can spend on my family. This tax impacts people on a very personal level. Small taxes like this add up, and they make me consider leaving Chicago every time they create a new one. I'd have to move to the suburbs--something I've been fighting my husband to avoid (sorry burbies, but imagine if you were taxed for every thing you enjoy and do, with more to come, so that eventually you could not live or work in the place you call home).

For all of you selfish people who only see your side of life (I used to be one of them when I lived in Lincoln Park & Lake View), you have no idea what you are in favor of until it hits you. And it eventually will. Because some day you will want to own property or a pet or your job will move to an area not serviced by an el, and you will have to drive through the loop, or else enjoy the traffic heading out to 90/94 either way it will cost you time or money and then your tune will change.

Finally, where would the money generated by this tax go? How would they spend this money? I recall in recent elections that riverboat casinos were supposed to improve education in llinois. Has anyone seen this improvement? I don't think so. I tutor kids from CPS and I gotta tell you, they have not seen a penny of that money go towards improving their education and chances to get out of poverty. What about the tobacco settlement money that was suppose to supplement Medicaid/Medicare for the additional cost that tobacco has burdened the heath care system. Hmmm, ask anyone on Medicaid how many services are cut each year, and how the quality of the care you and I purchase for them (through our taxes) diminishes. Politicians spend time rasing taxes (and their salary as well) and spend the money on nothing they promise. And yet they all get re-elected. Apparently, we are great at rewarding terrible ideas in this city. And this is just another example.

I just hope that you all out there reading this rant are fired up enough to write to your city council members to stop this nonsense and make Chicago a place where normal people can live and strive.

A couple of thoughts.
First this is theft pure and simple. Alderman Burke could care less about traffic, his district is on the southwest side. This is all about money and where he can spend it to get votes to get reelected or to give jobs to his cronies. So, when you get rid of the corruption and waste in Chicago city government then talk to me about even considering raising taxes of any kind.

Second, are we trying to drive people out of Chicago? If you want Chicago to turn into Detriot then this tax is a good start. I love this city and loved when I was able to work downtown but not everyone is lucky enough to do that. My wife drives through downtown every day to get to her job at a hospital in a very poor neighborhood. This tax would double her commute or force us to move to the suburbs. So this tax would affect regular people living in Chicago and not just burbies and visitors.

Finally, all this "I take the El so who cares about drivers", is really short sighted. Situations change and that job in the loop could move to the burbs and then this tax you are all for is hitting you.

JMA

PS This social engineering thing about not taxing the hybrids is also equally ridiculous. Whats next, if you have the right bumber sticker you dont have to pay? If you work for the city?
Please.

More false comparisons from John.

One, look back, I consciously did not cite any place on LI; it's obviously bascially fully developed and, besides, it's another island.

Two, obviously, given that the NYC metro area has over twice as many people, you can't look at EXACTLY the same distances and make a reasonable comparison; would you honestly argue that there is NO vacant land 60-75 miles from NYC? Nothing around, say Hacketstown, NJ, or Mahopec, NY or Ridgefield, CT (all about 60 miles from lower Manhattan).

Three, what companies that are locating in New Lenox would have any realistic basis for locating in the city limits of Chicago, never mind anywhere near the Loop. You're talking about the land of 400,000 square foot intermodal warehouses and the like which are intended to serve a gigantic region radiating from northern Illinois. Being within the Chicago city limits is just counterproductive and unnecessarily expensive. Look at the businesses left in Manhattan.

Four, what companies that are located in the Loop would realistically move to New Lenox? Yes, some would end up in Oak Brook, some in Lake Forest, some in Schaumburg and some would end up Dallas or Atlanta. BUT, the kinds of companies that, in the 21st century, would even consider locating in the CBD of Chicago (or NYC, Boston, San Francisco or LA, even) and pay the much higher real estate costs simply are NOT going to move into a brand new office park in New Lenox or Aurora.

Look, I think a congestion charge is a horrible idea for Chicago, but the nonsense in these comments (tollbooths?? come on, pay a LITTLE attention before reacting) makes everyone who is against the "plan" look like a bunch of ill-informed cranks. If you're against something like this, make informed objections. Spewing nonsense hurts the cause.

That would be people....Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha

Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha

So you people read this
blog after all, it
is when someone tries to
extrapolate one from their
money is when the screaming
begins....Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha

Ok, NOTICE TO ANY SUBURB MAYOR READING THIS BLOG!!!

Tit for tat time! If Chicago is going to charge us, let's do the same to them! Let's set up camera's on the intersection entrances to all of our burbs, and when they see a car with a City of Chicago city sticker on them, we send THEM a bill for a toll THEY have to pay to come to OUR suburbs. Let's charge them for the priviledge of shopping Orland Square Mall or Oak Brook Mall or Westfield Mall or enjoying our restaurants or our music festivals, like Ravinia.

Since there are people on this blog that seem to think that what's good for Chicago is good for everyone else, let them get a taste of thier own medicine.

Thankfully, it looks like Mayor Daley isn't stupid enough to push a toll like this through.

For the same investment in cameras and software and management and people, the City of Chicago could probably raise far more money by randoming taking pictures of cars (from mobile van?) whose drivers are talking on cellphones. Mail off the ticket, watch the money flow in.

Wonder how those cameras would work during periods of snow? Days when slush gets kicked up and caked on your plates? Would everyone get a free pass that day? London doesn't have big snow days. How would you feel if you met some associates downtown while it was snowing, and you later compare notes and you find that you got charged, but the cameras missed them?

Here's what I don't understand, in an age where gasoline is nearly $4 a gallon, who in their right minds just says " well I think I'm going to go joyriding around the loop today?" Is there really that much joyriding in the Loop where we need to tax people? I just can't fathome spending $75 to fill up my gas tank when I fill up just to drive around needlessly and clog up the streets.

Comment to Yo John. First off you apparently have never lived in NYC as I have... Yes, all of northern NJ and the New Rochelle/White Plains area are edge cities to NY's bourough of Manhattan, however you apparently missed the whole point that I was trying to make in your dimwitted rebuttle. Unlike nothern NJ which is completely FILLED with buildings, such as factories, businesses, houses, projects, etc. and White Plains and New Rochelle of which there isn't plot of land the size of a postage stamp that is vacant anymore, Chicago is SURROUNDED by OPEN UNBUILT farm land (FIELDS!!!) only about 40-60 miles away from it's downtown. That means this is cheap land with no buildings on it to be knocked down to make way for new ones to be built. A price that costs developers hundreds of thousands of dollars when buying a parcel of land where someone wants to build an office building. Thats hundreds of thousands of dollars just to remove " garbage" from the parcel of land that one just purchased just so one can build their new structure.

Out past Aurora or in New Lenox where the next "boom" is taking place, what does one have to knock down to put up a complex of office buildings or mega malls??? TREES? CORN? That being said, that land is very appealing to developers and businesses as it is close to freeways/tollways, there is ample room for things like parking lots, taxes are usually lower, neighborhoods are typically cleaner and safer, and the over all cost of doing business is just sorry to say, lower. If you were doing business in an age where the world is now at your fingertips via the internet, where would you choose to build your business? In an area where taxes are sky high, traffic and parking is a nightmare, public transit is slow/crowded/un-reliable, or a new area where everything is new, fresh, uncrowded, and untouched?

So, before accusing me of not knowing what I'm talking about, or "sticking to what I know" as you said, maybe you should take a little trip to Newark, New Rochelle, White Plains, or better yet, go find yourself some nice open land out around Deer Park, Lynbrook, or Syosset. Since I know you won't drive over there, and you will just sit there shooting your mouth off about the fact that I don't know what I'm talking about, ask yourself this, if there is so much open land around NYC as there is here, then why is it that you don't see open land everywhere owned by farmer Bob with a big for sale sign on their property in NY, CT, NJ as you do EVERYWHERE around here?

This tax will only add to the mass movement of businesses flooding out to the burbs or to other cities like Las Vegas and Austin where they embrace new businesses with open arms. This tax is a bad idea for this city.

What Burke is proposing is seemingly the most backwards proposal that my rage-filled brain can remember ever having heard. I don't even know where to begin ranting about this atrocity – other than publicly calling for the Alderman's immediate removal from office on the grounds of sheer stupidity alone.

"Can it reduce pollution? Can it reduce traffic?" It wouldn't take the mental capacity of an 8-year-old to realize that tolls get paid at tollbooths, tollbooths cause lines of cars waiting to pay the toll, and huge lines of cars are the definition of 'increased traffic' that is all the while creating 'increased pollution' by having to linger and create exhaust in concentrated areas. "Can it raise a revenue stream to help out the beleaguered CTA?" It takes a twisted mind to propose charging people to NOT use your product. The idea of charging people money for driving instead of using the CTA just to raise money for the CTA is just absurd. I hope that Burke never works for Microsoft, or we all might have to pay a fee to use a non-Windows operating system!

As if city motorists don't have it hard enough already with congestion that kills fuel efficiency and loads of time as well as the exorbitant fees to park in any parking garage (unless you want to risk meters and outrageous parking tickets) – now this elected official is suggesting we charge them to have to suffer through all this?

This complicated issue that "should not be rushed into" is one that should not have been rushed going from the alderman's brain to his mouth, because it went straight from his mouth to our ears.

This is the most ridiculous idea I can recall coming from the city aldermen since the insane foie gras ban that passed unanimously (meaning that not a single alderman saw how foolish and wrong it was and they should all be ashamed). This "congestion fee" is foolish enough to warrant kicking Burke out of office immediately. The city needs more aldermen who are smart enough to not only come up with some good ideas for a change, but also know when to keep their mouths shut to avoid the bad ideas from ever getting out.

This is the exact reason i left chicago and cook county!

1) Politicians are elected by the people, but they don't really want to deal with people. So the plan is to keep the people away from them at City Hall and the Daley building.

2) The builders who believed in the rhetoric of a downtown revival and who built parking garages for multi-millions are suddenly going to see their usage rates decline along with congestion.

3) Will congestion actually decline, or just be replaced by more $4 cab rides from just outside the zone, in?

4) Any city resident who lives within 4 blocks of a train, subway, elevated or bus stop should pay $1,000 a year if they insist on having a vehicle.

5) Jury duty checks should be made out directly to the Congestion Authority. This would save a lot of paper shuffling.

6) Cook County will want a cut of this tax. Their position will be that they are responsible for bringing in most of it by requiring people to come to downtown's county offices. The state of Illinois people will come calling for their share next.

7) There will soon be congestion zones around Wrigley Field and Comiskey Park during home games. Hey, it's free money from suburbanites!

8) My wife will just have to stagger out of the zone from (*gag*) Macy's with her load of bags. I'm not paying $16 to pick her up at the curb. No way. Ditto for any other shopping foray she may make into the zone. She gets in, she gets herself out.

comment to Discusted.

I didn't say anything about where the money comes form or goes. And where does it matter where it comes from. I didn't say the suburbs gained the tolls, but wouldn't the businesses on the toll road have the same complaints as downtown businesses. I didn't say toll money didn't go back to building the road... as a good portion of it does. I said nothing about it going to the city But the city doesn't have to build the road now, so they have all to gain. They received an economic boost through transportation being built in there region by the state/feds. That is as good as money to them.

Expressways likely are tolled because they are expensive. But so are transportation amenities in the loop. Double/Triple decker roads, city subsidized parking, Grant/Millennium park. Yes parks, since 1998 a park is considered transportation under federal transportation budgeting. The $2 billion dollar millennium park was federal transportation funding. $1.3 for the underground parking and $.7 billion for all the pretty stuff on top to hide all the ugly cars. The fastest way from point A to point B is if point A and Point B are in the same spot and a park can persuade development. The loop's transportation model has followed this since the beginning. The state collects tolls to offset the expense of building/widening the expressways. Why can't the city collect tolls to pay for Bundy fountain?

This is the most preposterous idea I have ever heard. Any downtown business who doesn't scream bloody murder against this totally unfair tax is crazy. I guess the alderman want to drive even more people and business to the suburbs. We already pay the unfair RTA tax imposed on motorists who have the misfortune of living in the six county area. A tax for which we get no benefit whatsoever. The people who want to put themselves through the misery and danger in the case of the CTA, of public transit should pay for it. Raise the fares!! Everyone else is paying more to get around, why shouldn't transit riders. I choose the safety and convenience of my own car and pay for it. And I certainly will NOT pay a congestion fee; ofcourse the ripple effect will put higher charges on everything sold downtown as trucking companies pass the tax on to consumers...and the poor people that work downtown will be most affected as they have to go everyday....thank god I live and work in the suburbs; Chicago is going wacko!

One more idea: if city transit is sooooo wonderful, why does anyone who lives in the city need a car at all? Instead of $90/year/sticker/vehicle, why not $9,000 per year? Get rid of all those street clogging clunkers.

I notice that this tax seems to be directed at the outsiders who are coming into the loop. I expect first on the list of exemptions for this tax will be residents of the congestion zone. Those same residents who make the afternoon inbound Stevenson twice (at least) as heavy as the outbound side. Let's get them out of their cars and onto one of the four or five Metra lines that serve the communities along the Stevenson. Or doesn't their exhaust stink as bad as those fewer coming into downtown?

If Chicago alderman want to ease congestion in the loop, why not move City Hall and the Daley Center operations out? Congestion eased.

This proposal is probably fostered by the same attitude that was behind the pedestrian crossing crackdown proposal. Pols lounging in the back seats of their limos want to get out of or into the loop faster and they see pedestrians and everyone else in a car as personal affronts to their inflated egos as far as how fast they think their driver should be able to go.

I see lying with statistics is cropping up, with the $4.2 billion number being thrown out to scare everyone. Isn't that the number for the region? The whole region? Including the Dan Ryan and Kennedy and Eisenhower? Why not just put toll booths across those at the city limits and REALLY decrease congestion?

And I see exemptions from the tax are already being proposed: handicapped plates first and foremost. The whole downtown will turn into a handicapped parking zone with all the overweight pols who will claim they can't walk more than 50 feet, or due to decades spent in smokey rooms have wasted lungs. That was a pretty extensive list. I'm sure it can be made more so easily.

Wonder what private party will get the city contract to install and monitor this system?

It seems to me that at least discussing this is overdue. Is it practical? Will it be good? Will it hurt people? There's no reason not to explore it.

The idea is a progressive one, one that would discourage much of the unnecessary driving into the Loop. It would seem to me that those in the most need are not the ones paying $24/day for parking. We have a great system of transit that everyone can use for substantially less cost than driving (one that we don't invest enough in, and is at risk of collapse without change).

By encouraging more transit ridership, investing better in our transit infrastructure, and decreasing the number of private automobiles on our streets during the business day, we improve the quality of life, decrease pollution, increase the effectiveness of our transit system, and end up having a stronger local economy by reducing lost manhours, decreasing overhead to deliver important goods, and reduce wasted fuel from people sitting in traffic.

Chicagoland has the second worst road congestion in the country according to a recent national study done by the Texas Transportation Institute. It's strangling the city's ability to move people and goods about. It's costing us, as a region, $4.2 BILLION in waste every year because of it. Right now we're all paying a tax for people to drive everywhere when it's not necessary. It's time we do something about it. With all the money traffic costs us, why not ask people to not do that damage to our ability to function, or help pay for the damage caused?

John @12:01 wrote: "Chicago is very unique in the sense that unlike cities such as New York and London, there is another whole city outside of Chicago"

Stick to what you know, bub (not that I'm sure what that is, but it sure ain't the meaning of unique). New York has Greenwich, White Plains and all of Northern New Jersey as its "edge cities"; London has a second, more office intense "downtown" outside the congestion zone--Canary Wharf.

I think a fee with qualifiers is a good idea. I would levy it at the river crossings into downtown and at key expressway exits (similar to a toll-way off-ramp). Make it an all-day valid thing, link it to I-Pass and issue paper reciepts for people w/o I-Passes. Waive the fee for disabled motorists with certification of inability to use public transit. Perhaps reduce it or waive it for vehicles carrying 3 or more persons. Waive it for health care professionals who can certify that they use their vehicles to care for patients. Guarantee that the GROSS amount collected goes to fund public transit. Give a bulk rate to frequent users such as trucking companies, delivery vehicles. Waive it for cabs. Make off-loop parking available at lower rates than in-loop, and provide free CTA service to people with current off-loop parking receipts, to be used like transfers. Since RTA is already working on a unitary transit card, I see no reason not to integrate I-Pass with it and charge the correct fees according to use. Imagine being able to choose to get on a bus or train with your I-Pass and being charged much less than you would be in tolls and parking (not to mention fuel costs), and to also be able to use the pass to pay for a taxi ride, even the boat taxi. The technology is available.

I feel that if you impose a fee such as this, you will chase away the businesses that are in the loop area which will in turn, take away tax revenue from them.
Also, besides the businesses, what about the people who live in the city and pay plenty just for a garage space. Are they supposed to pay a daily fee as well?
I, for one, cannot rely on public transportation as it doesn't extend out to the northwest suburbs. I take the "el" when possible, but it isn't the most convenient way for me. I have to drive 15 minutes on the expressway to get to a stop that has parking for my car.
Lastly, what about the Olympics if they come here? I think this plan should be considered very carefully. There could be more to lose than gain.

"- The toll would likely be charged only during business hours on weekdays. Therefore, fears that a congestion toll would drive restaurants and theatres, etc. out of business are likely unfounded."

So I'd find a suburban lawyer, or have my downtown lawyer come out to me where we'll do lunch, instead of downtown. And eventually, my downtown lawyer will move out of downtown, maybe just to the West Loop over the Kennedy, but away from downtown where he's been taking his clients out to eat all these years.

And because of one-way streets, the possibility of being forced into the downtown 'congestion zone' on my way to Gibsons or Gene & Georgetti's, I'll just not go to them any more, and I especially won't stop to pick up anyone from their 'congestion zone' offices to bring to a near north, near south or near anywhere in Chicago, bar/eatery/whatever.

Postulate all you want, the FACT is, downtown London businesses are seeing serious decreases in business.

"- There would be exceptions to the toll for certain vehicles including motorcycles and scooters, and possibly even certain environmentally friendly cars."

...and cops, and city workers, and politicians, and 'friends-of'. Would horses be exempt. How much traffic do they tie up?

"- The toll would also work in conjunction with changes in parking regulations. Free curbside parking would likely be eliminated in the congestion zone. (A recent study referred to in the New York Times determined that a large portion of urban gridlock is caused by cars circling for a free spot.)"

Are you serious???? Free parking???? Somewhere in the loop???? Do you have any grasp of reality?

"In order for the system to have the desired effects of reducing traffic, pollution, making Chicago more pedestrian friendly, and improving and expanding mass transit in the area, the funds raised by the congestion toll would have to be closely monitored (unlike th TIF funds that some readers mentioned). How this would be handled I am not sure, but this problem surely is not enough to dismiss the proposal out of hand."

I imagine it would involve the hiring of numerous 'friends-of' who would all work in the center of the congestion zone and of course, be exempt from its tolls.

If they want to expand mass-transit and reduce congestion, why have I not heard of any plans for an L to Streetville; to relieve current congestion and the future traffic to be caused by the Chicago Spire development? How about some mass transit to McCormick place that runs more frequently than once every two hours or so? Ditto Soldier Field. Why do we need to pay $50 to park when we should be able to take the L that serves the lakefront from Oak Street beach all the way to the Museum of Science and Industry and on down to the new harbor at 87th street? Isn't there a jolly fine set of railroad tracks running down that route that could be used? How about an L-line that runs from Hyde Park, to Midway, on to O'Hare, that doesn't make you go downtown?

I love how easy it is for someone like Burke to assume more people will rely on public transportation - I wonder if he's ever taken it from downtown to his 14th Ward...

Before judging the feasability of a congestion pricing program for Chicago, I would encourage Chicagoans to learn more about the goals of the program and how the London system, which Chicago would likely use as a model, works. Here are a couple points that I think are especially important to know before judging whether a congestion toll might work in Chicago:

- Tollboths will not be erected all over Chicago. Like London's system, and New York's proposed system, cameras will record the information of vehicles entering the congestion zone. Traffic flow will not be stopped or slowed as a result of the system. In fact, one of primary goals of the system would be to reduce gridlock in certain areas in and around the Loop.

- The toll would likely be charged only during business hours on weekdays. Therefore, fears that a congestion toll would drive restaurants and theatres, etc. out of business are likely unfounded.

- There would be exceptions to the toll for certain vehicles including motorcycles and scooters, and possibly even certain environmentally friendly cars.

- The toll would also work in conjunction with changes in parking regulations. Free curbside parking would likely be eliminated in the congestion zone. (A recent study referred to in the New York Times determined that a large portion of urban gridlock is caused by cars circling for a free spot.)

In order for the system to have the desired effects of reducing traffic, pollution, making Chicago more pedestrian friendly, and improving and expanding mass transit in the area, the funds raised by the congestion toll would have to be closely monitored (unlike th TIF funds that some readers mentioned). How this would be handled I am not sure, but this problem surely is not enough to dismiss the proposal out of hand.

If you want to live in a gated community, move back to the burbs.

Ald. Burke needs to find better things to do with his time. I'm starting to think he's gone off the deep end. From Horses wearing diapers to foie gras to this???
Stop punishing the good people.
Fine the people that are driving downtown without driver's licenses. This City is ridiculous!

London's system uses license-plate photo recognition. Cameras record all vehicles entering the downtown area, and software determines the registration number of that vehicle. As mentioned, New York, and especially London's mass transit (subway / tube) systems are more like a fishing net thrown over the city, not the feeded tubes funneling commuters into the center of the loop like in Chicago. It is easier to get to far-flung areas of New York and London than it is in Chicago. In that respect, the comparison of Chicago's situation to those other cities is just wrong.

London's downtown merchants are NOT happy. Sales ARE down. And while traffic may be less congested, so what? Congestion is part of living in a downtown. Get real. Downtown, by definition, is not suburban swards of green expanses, it is full of people, vehicles and activity. Who'd want to live/walk/roam in a wasteland?

Downtown Chicago wouldn't become a wasteland, but keeping people (theatre district) away after hours just brings back the itchy/scary experience of being alone on a street in the loop that is just now starting to go away.

I live in the suburbs, have worked most of my life in and around the loop. I am a regular user of Metra and the CTA. But on weekends, or at night to the Opera, I don't want to be walking around deserted streets at night and then having to wait an hour for a train. During the day, if I have a meeting, I'll blast into downtown for an hour and turn around and leave. That kind of scheduling wouldn't be possible using mid-day metra service. There are times when cars are good things.

I already find myself coming downtown less and less, just because of the parking costs. Add $16 to that cost, and you know what? The suburbs have basically everything downtown Chicago has. So the tax would have its effect: fewer people would come downtown to spend time AND money. Is that really the effect wanted?

Last thing: no one has mentioned how this fee would be collected. I assume the City would need to tie into the state license database and 'bill' the plate. Anyone see any problems with that system given Chicago's absolutely stellar experience with traffic camera's? How many license plates are going to be stolen? How many mis-readings of plates are going to result in suspension of licenses (yes, that'll come too, not just the plates, the licenses of the registered owners too). And your day in court? Yeah, again, experience should be the guide here, your day in court will just be a wasted 8 hour experience and you'll still have to pay the toll, the fine, and court costs.

This is just too much. First off, how in the heck would the city even begin to build tollbooths to collect monies for people to buy this car pass? Second, it costs money to build tollbooths. Doesn't it? I mean is there a tollbooth fairy in the sky I don't know about that is just plopping these things out? Next, won't we have to pay people to stand there and collect these funds all day? Forth, what about all the traffic that will be backed up waiting to buy these passes? Fifth, what about if I have to drive back out to lets say Oak Park and then back in to downtown, do I have to re-purchase the pass? or Do I get a stamp on the hand as if I were at Great America or what? Sixth, lets say I just park my car downtown overnight and pick it up the following morning during "peak" time, do I get a ticket for driving now because when I drove it in there when I didn't have to purchase a pass since it was past "peak" drive time hours, but now I am? Seventh, the streets are at a crawl now, lets add tollbooths to the mix or some sort of a merging system the way the Tri-State has and traffic will grind to a complete halt. Now how are EMTs and police supposed to get around to help people? Run, swim, ride a bike there? Eighth, with the loss of patronage of people not wanting to pay the city's luxury driving tax and avoiding the loop, how are stores already struggling to compete with suburban big "box" retailers like Wal-Mart supposed to stay afloat? Macy's for instance reported a record low revenue year last year and first quarter this year for it's State Street store and Carson Peire Scott just closed up shop on State for better luck in the burbs.

Get the point yet? There are too many unknowns and what ifs for this to work. There are not enough people living in the Loop area to sustain such a loss of patronage from suburban wallets for stores to remain in business in the Loop. Manhattan has over 2,000,000 residents who are stuck there due to Manhattan's geographical land/water locked location, the Loop area has about 100,000 residents if that, where are stores and restaurants supposed to get their customer base from if its all out in the burbs now? You do the math. We can just call Chicago, Detroit#2 because it will be a ghost town just like that.

This is a great idea. Americans already pay a lot of taxes for highways and streets. We should invest more than a small fraction of that into public transit.

Let's do it.

But from a practical standpoint, it might make more sense to increase parking taxes.

Comment to PAYING AWAY... I don't know where you are getting your information from, but what you are saying, the Illinois State Tollway Authority is just forking over money to the local municipalities in some sort of good faith effort??? Where do you come up with that? The tolls we ALL pay on the Tri-state, 355, 88, 80/94 going into Indiana are kept within the state's tollway funding to help maintain the tollways and JUST the tollways. The idea came about in the 1950's back when the tollways were first starting out. The state wouldn't allocate the funds for the tollway (Tri-state) to be built, so bonds were issued and the idea was that once the tollway was to be opened the old bonds and bills would be paid off by charging everyone a toll on the use of the Tri-State and the tollway would be self sufficient.

Though towns such as Rosemont and Hinsdale received monies from sale of their land for the tollway to be built on and recieve a small amount of money a year in a type of tax on the land the municipalities once had, the tolls being collected today for the most part remain in the tollway system for the maintnence and building of more tollways, NOT to donate to the towns or fund other things like busses and elevated trains. Today's tolls are funding things like the switchover to I-PASS/EZ Pass at all plazas, widening 294 from Balmoral to Dempster and 95th Street to 167th Street, extending 355, widening 88 to 8 lanes through Oak Brook and Lombard, building better oaisis, widening 80/94 in Lansing, and redoing many of the feeder ramps such as I-55 and 294.

Don't go on believing that the Tollway Authority is just handing out dollar bills to the local jurisdictions because that is just down right funny. If anything towns such as Hinsdale should be paying the Tollway Authority for having such a beneficial thing in their community. The tollway makes it so easy to get into and out of their community and has skyrocketed property values much the way Lockport is currently experiencing in advance of the 355 extension.

Fast Eddie Burke is a super liberal money grabbing politician...If you think this money they will collect will go to benefit Chicago, you're crazy!...I live near Fast Eddie...He comes downtown in a limousine paid for by the taxpayer...He has around the clock police guards around his house to keep the 'Great Unwashed' away from his privileged gates...Don't let this guy fool you...This is not about congestion, about a 'green' Chicago, it's about power...When a politician can control part of the budget, he commands the 'respect' of his fellow politicans and can get anything that he wants, they will fear going against someone with more power than themselves...If this passes, Fast Eddie's personal power grab, will cost us business and tourism and will overload an already overburdened public transit system...I live on the south side and work in Downers Grove...Why?...Because past irresponsible anti-business policies forced businesses to look elsewhere to make a leaner buck...Chicago: Don't let these fools do this!!!...14th ward: Wake up and get rid of your crooked alderman!!!

The money generated from the tollway system does not go directy back to each and every suburb the tollway passes through. And wasn't one of the reasons 294 was built to help deter people from going through the city on 94? Plus, several roads (I-57, I-55) do not collect tolls.

So no, tolls are not the same thing as charging city dwellers to drive on suburban streets. I think the expressway system is a little different from local roads, too.

I'm not sure how many people would drive through congested downtown if that were not their final destination.

Until there is a good, convenient mass transit system in place in the majority of the suburbs as well as the city, I think it is unfair to penalize people who have no alternative but to drive.

I don't know. This just doesn't seem right to me. It kind of reminds me of the 1600's in England when a lord had the right to tax everyone on his property for every little thing they did from living to just passing through. I thought our constitution was to protect us from things like this where every little city and county are not able to create little, lets just say "creative" taxes like this on everything we do. Whats next? A toilet tax? Want to use the bathroom in Chicago? It'll cost you!

All a tax would do is raise one's cost of living or at least add to it, therefore make people demand higher salaries, of which in turn causes the companies who employ these people to have to raise prices to meet costs, which in turn get passed right back onto the consumer of which the city buys many goods from just like all the rest of us do, so no one is any futher ahead than they were before. This tax just adds to our inflation and the further devaluation of the dollar.

Growing up on the northwest side of Chicago, I now live in the far northwest suburbs. I find it a treat to come downtown with my family for the the Taste or even the air show so that my children can see what a great city it is. Every trip in, we try and see somthing different. My wife and I also enjoy eating at the steak houses downtown. Grant it, we do take Metra for some of the stuff that we do just so that I don't have to pay for gas, tolls, $20 parking. But a lot of times, it is easier to have your vehicle there so that you don't have to worry about running to catch a train and we can go at our own pace. It would be very disappointing if the city imposed this tax. I would also like to see the first report of a crooked Chicago Alderman somehow manipulating his way around it as he/she drive in for free!! I'll start eating in the suburbs for our special family events if that's the case.

Hey folks, calm right down. The fact of the matter is, driving in America is downright cheap relative to what it costs our government and our society. The City of Chicago currently spends more money on roads than it takes in from licenses, fees, and gas taxes, and that leaves out billions of dollars in time lost to congestion (3rd worst in America), health costs of air pollution and car crashes, etc. In sum, we non-drivers royally subsidize drivers.

If anything, it's the traffic congestion that chokes the Loop every day is chasing out businesses and residents -- not the prices. Remember, most people who visit the Loop in any given day won't pay, since they're riding transit, walking, or bicycling in. (Really!)

Elsewhere, residents of the zone (which would just be downtown) pay a reduced rate, handicapped people and two-wheelers pay nothing (smaller vehicles take up less road space, after all), and the charge is only for daytime. Just imagine how much more efficient things would be if more deliveries took place overnight, when the streets are empty.

Terry in Oak Brook is right: congestion is actually worse in the suburbs in some ways. That's because there aren't any alternatives to driving in the suburbs. Here in the city, though, our transit system is about to grind to a halt without more money (and no, a recent comprehensive audit did NOT find massive waste or corruption) -- and then we will be left without alternatives, too.

"Mary" (with the "billion-dollar corporation") says CTA is overcrowded and never on time. Well, our road network is overcrowded and rarely gets people there on time. That's because we, for the most part, give away road space. The laws of markets dictate that when there's very high demand, you can either increase supply -- which, in this case, would require paving over downtown, which would remove all the reasons to go there in the first place -- or decrease demand. A fee is a good way to decrease demand.

Another economics lesson for you folks: parking is expensive downtown because *land* is expensive. With condos going for $500+ a square foot now, your 330-sq.-ft. parking spaces are worth a lot. Get used to it.

I keep hearing suburbanites stating there is no talk of charging urbanites to drive on there streets. But that is because it already happens. It is called expressway tolls... money collected by the state to track & deter expressway use.

Suburbs don't fight the state when they organize tolls through there town becuase it is moreless taxing people flowing through there area, not in.

Though it is difficult to say what someone is doing with their car downtown, many of them are just going through and not stopping. Very many major roads end up in downtown chicago, thus downtown is where congestion problems occur, just like along the expressways in the suburbs.

The city of chicago developed in an era when things like waterways, transit, and other development dictated where new construction occured. The suburbs developed along expressways & airports.

Like the expressway congestion causes problems in the suburbs, people trying to move cars through cities developed around transit, walking & bicycles causes problems.

Who started charging congestion fees first, the city or the suburbs?

Anyone remember the traffic restrictions on State Street years back? That didn't cost us a dime!!!

Why not tell the people where this is really coming from and just how much taxation is really intended?

Bad idea, the CTA is upping fees, it is already overcrowded and slow. How will it handle more people? It can't. Adding more people will create a horrible commute via CTA, it's band enough now. So to make this driving fee work, the CTA needs much work to handle the extra people. Of course the CTA is broke so upgrades will not happen. I know New York is imposing this fee, but Chicago is not New York. If Chicago had a transit system half as good as New York (remember the MTA is still only $2), then there might be a chance. This will chase business and residences out. Too expensive to ride public transit, too expensive to drive. Thanks Chicago.

What about tourism? I don't live in the city,(I'm 100 miles away), but I enjoy visiting the City of Chicago. I'll tell you what will happen if I have to pay some gate-ogre a fee to enter the city -- I will have $16 less to spend downtown. That is, of course, if I can justify paying the fee to begin with. I fully understand what this is about. Another city did it and got away with it, so let's all jump on the bandwagon. And we'll make 'revenue' to 'help' the city transit system...and line poli-pockets!

Here's what I don't get. I am seeing everyone talking about how horrible congestion is in the city, which it can be I understand that, but don't any of you ever travel out of the city to areas like Oak Brook? 22nd Street and 83 between 9am-6pm is at a standstill.

Should Oak Brook now charge a you're entering Oak Brook in a car luxury tax? Sounds pretty stupid doesn't it?

Outside of Chicago, there is a ton of traffic congestion on suburban streets and there is no talk of a driving tax out here. How fair is that?

I have a comment for RUSH... YOU THEN DON'T HAVE A GOD GIVEN RIGHT TO DRIVE ON SUBURBAN STREETS EITHER! Since you feel this way about this tax, I say that every street should be taxed then, and that includes streets like Harlem, La Grange, Higgins, Cicero, you know ALL the streets people use to get around. Brilliant!!!

In case you haven't figured this one out Einstein, we pay taxes for things like roads and the RIGHT to drive on them through fuel taxes of which the Chicago area is now the highest in the nation topping New York, property taxes, state taxes, so on and so on. If Chicago wants to start a tax on driving on it's roads because of pollution or whatever crap they decide to feed us, then FINE! I say there should be a tax placed on ALL city drivers who wish to leave the city. Towns like Cicero, Berwyn, Oak Park, Rosemont, Evanston (all towns that border Chicago) will all have a big toll booth for idiots like yourself who feel that is isn't one's right to be able to drive on the roads you ALREADY helped pay for! Its intelligence like yours that help hold Chicago back from becoming the best city in the world.

Just more money for the politicians to stuff their pockets with...

I get a laugh out of seeing what people who are in favor of this are writing. First off, this won't do a thing to reduce people from driving... Maybe in a sense of driving everyone away from the city and back out to the burbs. You know, all of us "pesky" suburbanites with our big wallets and lots of money to patronize your city businesses and fairs with.

Chicago is very unique in the sense that unlike cities such as New York and London, there is another whole city outside of Chicago that has been created because the cost of doing business and living is so high to begin with. These SUB-URBAN areas are known as "edge cities". In the 1970's there was a major move of businesses out of the city to suburbs such as Hoffman Estates and Schaumburg who were in search of lower taxes, convienence in the sense of getting around, and more land. Then in the 1980's it was Oak Brook, Darien, and Lombard, then the 90's introduced Aurora, Bolingbrook, and Naperville to the mix. Now with 355 being extended, that just opened the flood gates of vacant land out in Lockport and New Lenox. What is it going to take to make the city wake up and realize that they don't have businesses and residents held hostage the way New York does with it's lack of land. Unlike Manhattan which is surrounded by WATER to start with, and Long Island without a vacant parcel of land left on it, and mountains sitting to the north and west of the city; Chicago has tons of empty FLAT farmland surrounding it therefore making it VERY easy and convienent for residents and businesses to flee the city with their big piggy banks and move out to the burbs... AND STAY OUT THERE!

So the city makes an extra couple mil a year in car tax if this passes... SO WHAT! They loose billions in what residents pay in taxes from them leaving for places like Lockport and Mokena, business' taxes, tourists ( you know, us lousy, pesky suburbanites who are so bothersome by spending our hard earned money downtown clogging up all your streets and stores), all of that.

This is the midwest, NOT NY! People love their cars here and are NOT going to give them up. Drivers will just go somewhere else. The city should be an honored that suburbanites are willing to come to the city to spend our money and leave our nice air conditioned malls behind that have everything we need under one roof with ample FREE parking outside so that we can come to visit a place like State St with basically NOTHING a suburban mall doesn't already have.

Believe me Chicago, you aren't doing us any favors with anything you are doing or have. It is a pain in the a** to get into and out of the city (all the roads are torn up), mass transit in and outbound is awful and unreliable, parking is expensive, and now add to the mess an added tax to further aggravate people. Who do you think you are?

I say there should be a tax placed on people traveling out of the city to stores like IKEA in Schaumburg and Woodfield Mall... We'll put up a great big toll booth on the outbound Kennedy with the little exit ramp like the Tri-State Tollway now has for the cash lanes, only this one will be an exit ramp for city dwellers. On the sign we'll label it "pesky city dweller tax".

If all of these city imposed fees, taxes & food laws continue, downtown Chicago will once again become a ghost town. The increase in county taxes has somewhat caused lost revenue for the city whether they realize it or not. Because of the high county taxes on cigarettes, I now go to DuPage County, since I'm out there I've also started to do all of my shopping in DuPage. It's really a shame I live 10 minutes from downtown & drive out to Oak Brook to shop. I love shopping on Michigan Ave but to drive to the loop & pay at least $26.00 to park is crazy, when you're shopping & carrying packages it is very difficult to take a CTA bus, most of the time you're lucky just to get a seat. I have lived in Chicago all of my life & Mayor Daley is the best thing that ever happened to Chicago, I love Chicago, it’s a beautiful city! It's unfortunate that Ed Burke & his proposed fees & rules are slowly but surely sending the wrong message of Chicago & Mayor Daley. With friends like Ed Burke, Mayor Daley doesn't need enemies.

GREAT IDEA! I've been waiting forever for this!

Chicagoans are spoiled. Get out of your cars and use transit. The CTA isn't going to get more money from trees, even though many of you probably think it will.

I'm fed up with the ignorance on this blog. You don't have a God-given right to drive downtown for free, so get over yourselves.

I applaud Burke for this sensible idea that finally levels the playing field a bit. I wholeheartedly support this idea and anybody who has thought this issue through beyond the usual, stereotypical dim-witted gut reaction of "more fees? No way!" will feel the same way as I do.

I did not post the blog about a million dollar company, I posted the blog that is listed under Candy.. something is wrong with this!!!!

Julie

"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.

Should the individual suburbs start charging fees to drive on "our" roads, too?

And no, Metra is not always easy and convenient, especially outside of rush hour. The train service in the Southwest suburbs is not that frequent. Plus, Metra is not a viable alternative for every one in every suburb. This idea is ridiculous. Not everyone who drives downtown does it because they just prefer to drive.

This is a very good idea and Ald. Burke should be commended. Our current situation with congestion and particulate and noise pollution is unsustainable. Drastic times call for drastic measures. So get out of your Hummers and get on a bike or on the CTA. I hope this comes to pass sooner than later, but I confidently predict it will happen in my lifetime.

Are those fools in City Hall nuts! With all the other things wrong with this city, crime, our children being murdered, the highest gas prices in the nation. This is by far the Dumbest thing to come from city hall since the ban on foie-gras. Time to start recalling some of these idiots!

If $3 a gallon gas won't get you people out of your cars, maybe this will.

I don't take the CTA now because it is over crowded and never on time so I drive. If this does go into effect I will move my billion dollar company right out to the burbs. The gas prices are bad enough and with construction on every major road leading into the city what more do they want. It would kill tourism, theater and every festival that is put on throughout the year. So you get your lousy tax but you loose all that revenue. You decide.

I think it's a great idea.. around the olympics I was reading a bunch of blogs.. lots of suburban people (Naperville and the like... ) were bashing the city.. the same city that puts food on their table and roofs over their head.. but yet they leave at 5PM to their little burb and don't give a care.. about crime, congestion, rental prices, etc.. and don't contribute any money..I read about Naperville being voted one of the best places to live.. mmm.. how many people that live there, any of the other cookie cutter burbs of the like.. actually work and are supported by their "burb"??? Mayor Daley, I think this is a great way to cut down on congestion and global warming, and ease the strains on the transportation system.. and get $$$ for the necessary changes.. way to go!!! But you need to charge EVERYONE.. Mayor Daley and Alderman Burke, you are NOT exempt.. nor the consulates and diplomats that act like they own the city and the country..

This is just INSANE. We should first start by cleaning house at City Hall and getting rid of corrupt and blood-sucking Aldermen who do nothing but keep sucking money out of hard-working citizens in any and every way they can. We should not have to pay for CTA's mistakes. We should not be left to pick up after their mess because they clearly can't run their own system. It's the citizens that's left having to pay for their mistakes. As if we don't pay enough taxes, neverending hikes in cta fares, vehicle city stickers, parking permits, ridiculous parking rates downtown, oil prices, property taxes...should I go on?

If Ald. Burke thinks it's such a great idea because they're using this system in London and in New York..then HE should move THERE and let us know how it works out for him!

Imposing this fee will constrict business and tourism. Consider instead what Sao Paulo (Brazil) does. If your call license plate ends in a even number, you are not allowed to drive into the business district a certain day. For odd numbered license plates, its another day of the week. This eases traffic congestion substantially, and also encourages people to car pool. The government makes money only off those drivers that do not follow the rule. Worth consideration?

I don't understand why there are so many motorists that complain when you try to charge them for the faculities they are using. Decmocracy at it's worst, since they are a majority.

These motorists seem to feel that people like me that own a bicycle and occassionally rent cars need to pay for things like the...

- a large network of $40 million bridges (expressways) so they can cram more cars in the traffic mess
- businesses that need to buy more land for there parking faculities than there building, inflating prices for everyone
- an anually multitrillion $ underground pipeline project, so the price of transporting gasoline goes on the general public
- multibillion $ auto manufacturer subsidies, bringing the price of new cars down %15
- the cost of wars to influence oil rich countries oil production rate
- heavy auto insurance subsibies... note in many states auto insurance claims are funded directly from the states tax base.
- police protection from the motorists behaviour creating "accidents" injuring or killing me or my friends
- court and training costs for motorists
- half of the cities streets being given to stopped abondoned cars (some call them parked)... thus half of the road tax money
- cost of security/police to keep people safe in those large vacant areas the automobile transportation model creates... ghettos, parking lots, area next to ugly expressway.
- many indirect expenses, general health insurance costs as we are becoming a nation of fat slobs, cost of food as crops are being funneled to energy... etc.

... and then they have the nerve to question where all the money is going

I could keep going on, but I have other things to do.

ARE THEY CRAZY!!!!!! THIS IS JUST ANOTHER WAY FOR THE CITY TO TAKE
OUR HARD EARNED MONEY EVERYTHING IS GOING UP THAT NO ONE WILL BE ABLE TO AFFORD TO LIVE IN THE CITY-FIND ANOTHER WAY-NOT RAISING PROPERTY TAXES EITHER-WE WILL NOT FATTEN THE POCKETS OF OF THE CITY,SO THAT THEY CAN VOTE THEMSELVES A PAY RAISE LATER IN THE YEAR OR NAY OTHER TIME. STOP BEFORE ITS TO LATE--WE ALL WILL END UP HOMLESS

Not a good idea at all. The city has done so much over the past 20 years to lure people and businesses back into the city that it seems like such a waste to have another added tax drive it all back out to the suburbs.

Someone earlier commented on here saying that this tax is good for the city and would discourage people from continuing to build further and further out away from the city, but that person failed to realize that taxing people even more in the city will do only that... Drive more people and businesses out of the city and to the less expensive burbs like Aurora and Montgomery where the costs of living and operating a business are lower.

I mean lets face it, salaries are NOT going up worth a darn, yet housing, food, gas, electricity, taxes, travel, insurance, healthcare, etc. are all skyrocketing. Where is one supposed to get more money from? There is only so much to go around. The same applies to businesses with their shrinking profit margins as all their expenses also keep going up. Chicago can't just keep taxing and taxing and taxing people and companies and expect something not to give.

Adding another tax like this one will only encourage more urban sprawl as people and businesses will continue to search for economic viability out in the less expensive suburbs or as the earlier commentee stated "farmland".

I just don't think its a good idea. Just another excuse to get more $$$$$$ out of us but at the end they will probably end up losing....

Okay, here's what I don't get. Why do the voters in this city continue to reelct these morons? I read everyday in the leters section of this paper the constant compaints about corrupotion, property taxes and the absolute waste of taxpayer dollars. Yet, every election cycle you see the same individuals being put back into office. $800 a month ($16/day tax and $24/day parking) for the "privelage" of going to work is out and out thievery.

Let's also not forget who we're dealing with here. These are the same poloticians that "promised" (as Burke has done here saying this money will fund the CTA) lottery profits were going to fund public education and that the cigarette settlement (more than $2 BILLION for the state) and cigarette taxes would go towards public health. Oh wait, no, that's right, this money has been spent on funding ..........

What a wonderful idea. . . Help us rid the area of those pesky tourists that clog up our downtown area. It will also reduce the crowds in those stores that they drive to, and the Hotels too.

The conventions will have one more reason to move to Vegas or some other place, and those heartless business men will use this opportunity to move to the suburbs with their offices.

BRAVO to the MORON who came up with this idea. . .

With EVERY train line other than the Swift -- and scads of bus lines -- going into the Loop, people have few excuses to drive downtown. The city built the roads and maintains them. Since so many people want to use them, we should make this capitalist and charge people to use the roads. The city will get money for transit; and, for the people who truly need to drive downtown, they'll get less traffic.

Claiming this will hurt business or the poor is nonsense. Most of the poor going downtown already cannot afford parking or the possibility of a parking ticket. All this does is stop subsidizing the middle- and upper-class drivers who can afford to drive to the Loop.

Nobody who lives downtown HAS to drive. If you cannot figure out how to use transit from the Loop, then I'm not sure you are smart enough to be on the roads either.

This is unbelievable! The roads are at a standstill not because there are too many cars, but because we DON'T have the roads or technology to handle the traffic here.

We have a nice grid system in place, but the stop lights that control every intersection are from the 1950's-1960's and none of them seem to be coordinated with eachother so it makes Chicago's traffic a complete nightmare all day long. For instance, in the Loop the signals are programmed to all change to green at the same time and all change to red at the same time along any given route like Jackson or Monroe, both of which are one way streets. This means that a driver has one of two choices, drive at the posted speed limit if there even is one only to make it through one intersection on a green light in the 30 second window of green time he or she has, OR floor it, drive like a complete maniac at 45-55 MPH through the loop to make as many of the green lights as he/she can in the little 30 second window of green time he/she has to do it in to get as far as possible which I constantly see occuring in the Loop.

Many other cities I have visited such as San Diego, San Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles all seem to have traffic that is heavier than Chicago's, yet they are still more pleasurable to drive in than Chicago in my opinion because the stop lights are all in sync with eachother and progress in a manner from red to green and back to red again in the direction of the traffic flow and are programmed to do so at the posted speed limit. In that case, if ones drives the posted speed limit he/she will almost never be stopped by a red signal and get green lights all the way along their route.

Why can't Chicago program it's stop lights like that? It would greatly increase safety to everyone downtown; pedestrians and motorists, reduce road rage, reduce people stopping and going which creates more emmissions, and just make it more pleasurable to drive in our city.

How many aldermen take public transportation to their City Hall office? I'll bet anyone dollars to donuts that Alderman Burke doesn't ride the Orange Line.

Are you kidding!!? So, London has seen a 20% decrease in downtown traffic. I want to see the statistic about what that's done to London's downtown business district. Do you know what less congestition means in downtown? It means less business for State St!!! You've screwed the restaurants twice now in Chicago by banging smoking and dictating what kind of food they can make - banning faux gras and transfats - now you're going to take their customer base away entirely? Let me ask, what exactly did the restaurant community in Chicago do to City Hall and Ed Burke to cause such a grudge?

Lets face facts here. The citizens of the City of Chicago are taxed to the bahjesus belt and there's no place left for the Dem's to find money for their pet projects and patronage scandals. So, now, City Hall is going to reach its tenticals into the suburbs and collar counties and put the screws to us! Why? Because we're the only people making enough money to actually afford Downtown! And why do we have this money? Because we're not taxed to the bahjesus belt!! And why are we not taxed to the bahjesus belt?! Because our politicians aren't a bunch of crooks!

Exactly how is this going to be good for CTA? There is no CTA, or Metra and RTA is a joke out by me. So, what am I supposed to do? Drive to the outskirts of the city, park my car, and take CTA the rest of the way in? And then, when I come back, I can see how well my car has been stripped because the crime in the city is so bad.

The only good that will come out of this is that the malls and downtown area's of the suburbs and collar counties are going to making money hand over fist, because no one will want to go to downtown Chicago anymore. Sorry, but all this is going to do is backfire. Downtown Chicago is just not worth it.

I used to live in Rockville Centre, NY, a suburb of New York City much the way Orland Park where I live now is to Chicago and must voice a my concern over this proposed tax for driving into Chicago.

In New York City, having a car is more of a luxury than a neccessity as it is in Chicago. New York's MTA (the equivalent of the Metra here) runs every 20 minutes day and night to all areas of New York's metro area allowing a commuter to not only get into Midtown's Penn Station from L.I. in about 30 minutes, but also from one suburb to the next. In Chicago, Metra strictly runs from the burbs to downtown. There is no way for a commuter to get from lets say Joliet to Schaumburg, or Hinsdale to Lansing, etc, or if there is, then it is very difficult.

Next, there is New York's subway system (the equivelant of the L here); this system runs again 24 hours a day at intervals of every 20 minutes to all stretches of the 5 bouroghs of New York City and parts of NJ. When I arrived in Chicago I was stunned to find out how limited I was by the CTA's train schedule and where it went to. To be honest, it didn't seem to go anywhere I needed it to and many of the lines seemed VERY unsafe with little policing of the activities that were occuring on the trains. In New York there were police on every train which made me feel at ease and made me feel comfortable to ride the train at ALL hours of the day.

In New York a tax placed on those driving into Midtown somewhat makes sense because it isn't a neccessity for one to drive into Midtown as there is plentiful mass transit for one to use, but in Chicago where the CTA (L's) is noutoriously unreliable, slow, and doesn't have enough lines going to places people need to go; one is forced to drive to get from one place to another, so it isn't fair to punish those that have to drive into work everyday by taxing them further than they already are being taxed with the fuel taxes and all.

It seems to me a few years ago, there was a big push to increase public presence in the loop, and now that there are more people, there's a proposal to tax them? It is already hard enough to shop in the loop with the dearth of street parking and the high parking lot rates. My purchases wouldn't add up to the fees and taxes!

This is absolutely unfair for people who LIVE downtown and HAVE to drive. And instead of taxing us all the time to pay for the city's corruption, the city should clean its own house before punishing us even further for their incompetence and dishonesty.

I wouldn't pay anything. This kind of stupidity is the reason I live and work far away from downtown Chicago. I'm sure all the suburbs will be in favor of the plan since it will drive business and workers out of the city.

Cutting off access to downtown is easy. Just raise the bridges and block all roads in from the south. That leaves only a handful of access routes (LSD, Ike) which would be easy to control.

If City Council is serious about implementing a congestion fee, they should still allow free access to the parking garages like the Millennium Park Garage, and on some major downtown arteries like Wacker and Lake Shore Drive. Exemptions should be given to the small number of Loop residents with proof of residency as opposed to those who might try living in a PO Box. Drivers of low emission vehicles such as Hybrids, electrics, or motorcycles should also be exempt if lower emissions are the reasoning behind congestion fees.

Personally, I thought the CTA/RTA should've gone to the Tollway Authority to collect money when they were making money hand-over-fist after the toll increases. Instead we hear about the CTA's money woes, and ambitious plans to sell the tollways to European consortiums who will manage like a slumlord on vacation.

Wow..some of the comments smack of the old "forced relocations" from the Soviet Union days under the guise of "saving the planet".Make 'em move closer if they want to be part of us..eek.
My question is,what would the boundries be? I see the Loop, but my impression of downtown is much larger perhaps out to Harrison Street on the west,the Lake on the east,North Avenue on the North,and 21st St. to the south (taking in the South Loop redevelopment and all).
As to the "promised" distribution of funds to the CTA..well, this comes from those wonderful folks who promised all the money from the Lottery would go to education. Need I say more? This must be reviewed with the finest-toothed comb money can buy :)

Yeah, congestion pricing is something we should examine because its been done in London and New York in looking at it. How original! I find it hard to believe, that after I pay $90 a year for a city sticker for my SUV and $25 for a residential parking permit, the city is looking to once again tax the beleaguered citizens of this city! And the whole suggestion that congestion pricing can help fund the CTA is pure tomfoolery. If anything, the bloated elephant that is the CTA should have its fat trimmed and streamlined so that it can run efficiently and not go running to Springfield with its hat in its hand! The reality is this: the city's residents have over 1.1 million registered vehicles and when combined with the considerable amount of suburban, taxi, limo, and commercial traffic, congestion pricing might make sense to officials who refuse to take into account what we pay in stickers, gas prices, downtown parking garages and the like. What would be a shame is if this legislation goes through and all of the recent improvements to the Loop were all for nothing because businesses choose to look elsewhere to conduct their business. Looks like Ed Burke is the next alderman up on the chopping block!

Nice idea...NOT!!! At least when this tax goes into place I will be able to once again watch the suburbs explode with growth much the way they did in the 1970's and 80's where everyone was so discusted with living in Chicago and putting up with horrible traffic, taxes, costs of living, filth, so on and so on, that there was a huge mass exodus out of the city.

Here's an idea DALEY, instead of looking for ways to deter people from coming into the city in some lame attempt to reduce pollution, how about tackling congestion relief by syncronizing all the city's traffic signals with eachother much the way NYC did 15-20 years ago. Syncronizing the signals will allow for traffic to flow more smoothly by reducing the amount of stop and go movement between signals, and at the same time syncronization will increase our 19th century road's capacities allowing them to be able to accomodate more cars. NYC's traffic signals all work in perfect unison with eachother allowing a driver to travel 1-2 miles before ever being stopped by a red signal and that includes driving in Manhattan. In Chicago I'm lucky if I can make it through one intersection on a green light before once again having to stop for another red signal. Time the signals better and you will reduce the city's congestion and also greatly reduce any pollution caused by cars.

Why cast the congesting pricing on the people? Why not charge Ford (etc.) with these prices for not making more electric compact cars for city driving? There is not a sufficient variety of these cars available. Why? Government. Corporations. Money. Greed. Politics.

The city is full of it...millions of dollars spent on these flower boulevards that impede a driver's view may have also contributed to congestion. Yet, they approve the building of a 150 story tower that is on a parcel a little larger than a postage stamp with limited access. Let's see congestion when that thing is finished.

"You gotta pay to play." Everyone loves the appeal and luxury of the city but nobody wants to pay for it through higher taxes, increased CTA fares, or now a driving fee. This is the price of congestion: pay it or move out!

obviously a toll that's even on par with what N.Y.c is proposing ($8) would be too much in a city like chicago, but I think it's a great idea.

Any incentive to get people out of their cars an into public transit, bikes or walking is wonderful.

Suburbanites can easily take Metra into the downtown area as many already do (as can car driving urbanites). If we don't implement something like this, we'll continually suffer from horrible air quality and compared to n.Y.c., an even more underfunded transit system.

It's a quality of life issue for me. I leave for Yale come september and if the CTA mess doesn't get fixed, I plan on planting roots in new york. a city that's "getting it".

Will the alder-boobs and his holiness be required to pay this fee also, or will they simply afford themselves another pay raise to cover this expense. Try getting rid of all the dead wood in city, county (especially Todd Stroger), ans state government. When will we say enough!

WOW! That's about all I can say for this insane proposition.More money for the strapped city,Daley needs more money to pay for all those law suits that has stricken that city. More tickets ,more tickets.I can see it now at one of Daley's staff meetings(I hear they are a site to see,with the king going into fits of anger like a little 5 year old),brain storming for way's to get more money from these people. When I get east of Cumberland avenue I instinctivly hang on to my wallet,now toll booths to collect money from people driving downtown. It won't be long before all roads leading into Chicago will have toll booths. Sending tickets in the mail is Daley's way of not having the police coming into contact with real live people,"just send them a pay or lose your license" notice and of course you have a right to have a hearing for your 'violation',yea right ,two chances of getting off of one of those notices,slim and none. I can see it now your fine is normally $150.00 but we will settle for $75,just pay the clerk.
I am glad I only get into that city once or twice a year,and that's too much.

I drive into the city from the northside every day. I have a disability and can't take public transportation. I park at a handicapped space which I don't have to pay for. In order to get this space, I arrive downtown at 4:30 a.m.

For the city to charge a tax for the privilege of working downtown and needing to drive in order to work here is ridiculous. Just as ridiculous as the weeks of time that the handicapped parking spaces are taken up because of movies shooting in Chicago. In the five years I've worked downtown, handicapped parking has been off limits for a total of a little over 2 months.

Parking in area lots, even arriving at 4:30 a.m., costs $24.00/day. That's $120 per week, or $3,480 per year, which I wouldn't even be able to take off my taxes. City sticker is up to the same cost as my license plate renewal. My property taxes have gone up as well as gas, electricity, etc.

When is enough enough? I say get rid of the bloat caused by malfeasance in office and you would have plenty of money to give the CTA. And why, for heavens sake, should I support the CTA when I can't and don't use it? It's the same as my supporting the Chicago Public schools when my children went to private school. And now that my husband is retired, we are still supporting the public schools through our taxes.

If the city wants to tax me for driving into downtown, how about removing some of the other taxes that I pay? But of course, that's sounds fair so it won't even be considered.

This is completely rediculos!!! Just another way for the city to get our money. True NYC is considering the idea of doing this, but that doesn't mean that Chicago has to once again follow suit in this topic as well. All a tax like this will do is push businesses back out into the suburbs where taxes are lower, traffic is less, and costs of doing business aren't as high. A congestion tax will discourage good highly qualified suburban residents from wanting to work in the loop and stay out in the suburbs therefore reducing the worker pool that companies have to choose from. It will totally discourage freight into and out of our city via truck of which is Chicago's main industry (freight/transportation), and also, where are people supposed to get these pollution passes??? Tollbooths? I thought the state is trying to do away with tollbooths because they have been proven to create traffic back-ups of which cause motorists to sit in stop and go traffic with their engines running thus CREATING MORE SMOG!!! Don't even consider this stupid tax Chicago, just leave sleeping dogs lie.

If Burke likes how London has implemented this fee scheme then maybe he should move there. He'd fit right in with the royal snobs that have disdain for the commoners.

It's a good idea in many respects, many of which are set out here. One big one I can think of is the probable reduction of urban sprawl. Sprawl is killing the Chicagoland area. We are destroying valuable farmland to build communities further and further out. You have people out in Yorkville now communting 120 miles per day to and from the Loop! This can't be good for the planet. The fee would perhaps cause people to move into inner ring suburbs or city neighborhoods where they would be close to public transit. And this could have the additional benefit of revitalizing blighted neighborhoods and inner ring suburbs. "Adaptive reuse" and "smart growth" are the concepts the fee may assist in achieving. This is just speculation but it analytically flows.

Another facist busybody outrage by nanny Mcfee.

Why limit this to cars and trucks?

If a 5.00 daily fee was applied to all pedestrians and workers who venture in the downtown area, at any time, this city would be much better off and think of all the money the city would gain.

definitely an idea whose time had come.

The first thing wew should do it make sure that Burke is NEVER REELECTED. The second thing we should do is charge each alderman a $100.00 per day fine for contributing to global warming by all the hot air they continue to pollute Chicago with. Add this $16.00 per day fee with the construction debacle if Chicago does get the Olympics and I would be the first to petition Burke and every other alderman who goes along with this idiotic brain fart to be sentenced to Gitmo as an enemy combatant. TIME FOR BURKE TO GO!

Embracing more taxes/government, especially in this fashion, is like giving Big Brother a shot in the arm. This is more of a control issue than a tax issue as some have pointed out (actually most government ideas are control issues. We have been paying more than enough taxes for a LONG time to cover government. It's mismanagement, patronage, and corruption that eat up our money).

Perhaps this will lead to a Chicago Congestion Fee Party akin to the Boston Tea Party? Funny how overall attitudes to the taking of our wealth changes in 230 years, or maybe they haven't. It is still government taking as much as it can get away with.

It would not hurt a thing. Why don't they cut that TIF crap out if they are so hard up for dough?

I'm afraid that Burke and those who agree with him are simply showing their ignorance. The simple fact is that the Chicago Aldermen do not have the authority to pass such a ridiculous law. Why? A little piece of paper called the Constitution of the United States of America. The 5th amendment of the Constitution states that a person has a right to life, liberty and property and shall not be deprived of these things without due process of law. What does that mean? Due process means the court system. You can not be deprived of life, liberty or property unless a court finds you guilty of a crime, in which case they can deprive you of life, liberty(freedom by putting you in jail), or property (some amount of money or property to repay your crime).

Ok, so how does that play into Burke's insane and illegal idea? It all comes down to the little word, LIBERTY. Back in feudal Europe, it was all too common for each lord to charge a bogus tax simply for crossing lines on a map. A bridge tax, a looking at my trees tax, or a "just because I feel like it" tax. The founding fathers were tired of this. They did not want each state or each city charging bogus taxes simply for entering their region. It was called the "liberty to travel". The founding fathers wanted all the people to be able to travel the whole United States freely and without impedance from the government. It was one of the first times in modern history that such an idea was put into practice.

So, all of these roads are paid for or maintained with taxpayer dollars, so that are not privately owned. They are owned by the people. This, coupled with the constitution, means that ALL people, including those from other states have an unalienable right to travel into the city of Chicago with bogus taxes from the feudal lords simply for traveling.

Burke, yet again, seems to have no problem making illegal laws. He really needs to be given a copy of the United States Constitution and read up on it. Better yet, for violating the Law of the Land, he should be put on trial for treason and punished, as described in law.

THIS IS INSANE PEOPLE IN CHICAGO ARE GETTING FED UP WITH ALL OF THE NW EXPENSES THAT ARE BEING PUT ON THEM WHERE IS ALL OF THIS MONEY GOING SOME ONE SHOULD BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR IT. i THIN K ITS A WAY OFD GETTING PEOPLE TO TAKE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION WHICH IS A BIG JOKE.

Mayor Daley should concentrate more on cleaning up corruption in his government (starting with himself) than sticking another tax on people. Or maybe he needs this money for his corporate fund defense when he get indicted.

The taxing of coming to Chicago is not a new idea. The first Mayor Daley effectively did the same thing with the closing of State Street and allowing the parking fees to become excessive. The malls of the suburban areas enjoyed economic growth as a result. I beleive the end result coupled with higher rapid transportation cost will drive revenue from downtown Chicago.

What about those of us who live downtown? Would we be exempt? I don't drive very often, but I don't want to pay a toll so I can get in and out of my parking garage. I already pay sky high property taxes.

It sounds dumber than a box of rocks. I'll just drive thru like I do on the tollways while singing Marvin Gayes WHAT'S GOING ON!

The Democrats solution to everything is a tax increase. Burke, Stroger, Blago, Pelosi.

If the Alderman is truly interested in reducing the number of vehicles in downtown Chicago, then his Finance Committee should find the resources to help the CTA out, which my understanding is a paltry contribution from the cities coffers. If this is his plan to steer more money into the CTA budget, then if we REALLY wants to encourage people not to drive, eliminate the fares collected by the CTA, which will also eliminate much of the administrative cost.

The Federal government should also be assisting the RTA, METRA, and the CTA for the added security cost post 9/11, Madrid, and London. Our congressional delegation's help should be sought in addressing the funding of a safe and secure public transportation system regardless of the cities Olympic bid.

Technologies such as open road tolling should be explored for those who use LSD as though it was another expressway, rather than the parkway that it is. I think it would be nice to use any funds collected from a parkway open-roads collection to extend our park system with a series of islands north of Hollywood/Osterman Beach, and add a two lane parkway on those islands extending LSD to Evanston. On the South side, tolls should be used to expedite the conversion of the old steel site to a park system.

If the city council is going to look at these types of measures, they should look more comprehensively at our entire transportation system. The Chamber of Commerce should look at this as an opportunity to address funding for CREATE, potentially an economic boost to businesses by maintaining Chicago's traditional role as the nations HUB for rail freight. The city council should also be working with the state legislature to gain more efficiencies and greater accountability in streamlining the administrative functions of the RTA, METRA, and CTA.

If the city is truly interested in making a serious bid for the Olympics, an environmentally and fiscally sound public transportation network would be a lasting legacy for the cities residence. I have never understood what the difference is between public education and public safety - (which we do charge user fees) - and public transportation. Our city leaders should be taxing those things they want to discourage, and reducing or eliminating any taxes toward those things we want to encourage. If this proposal should move forward, I hope our city leaders explore eliminating CTA fares, expanding bike lanes, and encouraging transit oriented development throughout the cities neighborhoods, and not solely focus on measures in the Loop.

This ideal is dumb, to eas traffic lets move the courts and city hall out of the loop!!!!

HOW DOES ALDERMAN BURKE AND HIS FAMILY, FRIENDS, ASSOCIATES GET TO WORK, SCHOOL, BUSINESS, FAMILY FUNCTIONS. EVERYONE IS TRYING TO GET WHERE THEY ARE GOING THE FASTEST AND CHEAPEST WAY. ALL THIS WILL DO IS STOP PEOPLE FROM COMING DOWN TOWN MAYBE THATS WHAT THIS PROPOSAL IS ALL ABOUT, KEEPING CERTAIN TYPES OF PEOPLE OUT.

If the TRUE desire behind the implementation of such an idea is reduction of emissions and congestion, and not lining our government official’s pockets, I see no reason not to IF there is a sliding scale intertwined in the fees, the lowest going to hybrids, scooters and motorcycles, with the most hitting SUV’s. Lager commercial trucks should be given a reprieve if they have business within the area as to not discourage business there.

I think Mayor Daley is an idiot and out of touch mayor. I just left Chicago, gas is high and traffic is a nightmare. The people of Chicago have there priorities messed up. What needs to be done in Chicago is to invest in a major new subway system in Chicago. The CTA has not expanded nor created a new train line in twenty years!!!!.... But Daley wants the Olympics to come to Chicago in 2016...Please explain..the logic..

Even if I were convinced that this is a good idea, how exactly would you enforce the rule? Ring the area with toll booths? The downside to the grid system of streets is that there would be too many ways into the Loop to make it reasonable to collect the fee.

Now, I could see something where the toll booths are on the major arteries like the Kennedy and only collect tolls during peak hours. Maybe all those people that think they can't take the train to work would reconsider. That would probably do more than punishing the random visitor for coming here.

vote out ed burke and any other political parasite who tries to implement this inane scheme.

I pay $75/month to go to the Loop for work every day. I take the CTA.

This idea is overdue, and now because we're behind the curve we've potentially missed out on a piece of the $1.1 billion in federal funding for congestion pricing, which would have made it a lot easier to implement this.

If suburbanites want to continue to enjoy Chicago's urban benefits, they're going to have to start helping to pay for them. Funding is getting tight enough that it's either progressive policies like this, or we'll watch the city and its benefits (jobs, entertainment, homes, parks, etc.) start to disintegrate -- it's an unfortunate fact of life. Many of the suburbanites who will complain about this live in communities that charge outsiders to visit their parks!

Chicago leverages the same power of urban efficiency as London -- and it's powerful that enough that people will continue to come downtown despite having to pay. Some people will be willing to pay to drive downtown, and others will find other means of getting downtown. But we'll have more funding to provide alternative transportation options for those who won't or can't pay. Other people still will decide to take advantage of living downtown, which is something we should be encouraging anyway if we want to reduce pollution and waste and take advantage of a great existing walkable urban environment.

Why shouldn't it cost $40 a day to drive into downtown Chicago

$16 - congestion fee
$24 - parking fee

Because, it will limit our central urban areas to the haves and the have nots.

This will turn downtown into a nightmare since many people that work outside of downtown and commute through the area. So which streets will have the congestion fee, Michigan, Wabash, State, (traffic limited once before and it didnt work), Dearborn, Clark, Wells or La Salle most of which are major streets that carry north south traffic, why not have done with it all and sell the commuting rights for downtown to a private company for several billion just like we did for Grant Park parking system. Why not keep giving large companies the incentive to pack it in and leave downtown for good?

Leave a comment

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Monifa Thomas published on June 13, 2007 3:29 PM.

Doomsday update: CTA board delays vote was the previous entry in this blog.

Now it's Metra and Pace's turn is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.