Congestion Pricing in Chicago

Congestion Pricing Coming to Chicago? (The City Fix, July 14, 2010)

Also discussed here: The Road Less Traveled: Exploring Congestion Pricing in Chicagoland (20 page pdf, Illinois Tollway,  Metropolitan Planning Council, July 10, 2010)

And here: To cut gridlock, drivers should pay for fast lane, new study says (Chicago Tribune, July 14, 2010)
And here: From New York to Guangzhou: Lessons Learned from Congestion Pricing (The City Fix, March 15, 2010)

In order to pay for road infrastructure and public transit as an alternative, congestion pricing is here or coming, whether it is “Cordon” (Stockholm), “Variable” (Lee County, Florida) or “Fixed”. The report reviewed today looks at a model and assumptions based on the results of a user survey to predict the results expected from congestion pricing applications in Illinois.

Key Quotes:

” With a congestion pricing system in place to allow traffic to flow more efficiently, if only 5 percent of drivers change their travel behavior by either shifting mode or time of day, many more cars would be able to move through the same exact physical space in less time.”

“In survey after survey, it’s been shown that once these lanes are in place, people respond positively…If they’re in a hurry, they have the choice to [use them]. Surveys have also shown that users are not wealthy folks — it’s a good mix of people. Folks of all means value their time.”

“Under the proposal, the inner lane in each direction would be intended for buses and carpools. Single-occupant motorists would be allowed to use the HOT lanes but would pay a premium toll, depending on the level of congestion…The study suggests that congestion-pricing the Kennedy’s reversible lanes could provide more than $23 million a year.”

“three key considerations:

  • The effects must be visible and dramatic. To garner political backing, congestion pricing must be able to achieve at least a 15 percent increase in travel speed.
  • The fee must align benefits with costs. New York has instituted a significant taxi surcharge of 50 cents per ride to ensure that those who take taxis rather than public transport options are also contributing to a congestion charge.  Does this mean we’ll see the disappearance of extremely cheap (compared to Western prices) taxi rides in China?
  • Transit improvements financed by the toll revenues have to come in advance, and fare reductions guaranteed.  Again, residents need to be aware of the immediate benefits of congestion pricing.”

“Stated Preference Survey Results

  • 85% – I will pay an extra toll it assures me my travel won’t be slowed by traffic conditions
  • 40% – I’m able to access a sufficient number of transit routes from my neighborhood
  • 82% – I support using tolls to pay for highway improvements that relieve congestion
  • 97%- I’ll use a toll route if the tolls are reasonable and I save time”
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