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Lightfoot unveils congestion tax

Friday, Oct 18, 2019

* Tribune

Mayor Lori Lightfoot will seek to more than triple the tax charged on most solo ride-share patrons heading in and out of downtown Chicago as part of her plan to reduce congestion and raise much-needed money to shrink a massive estimated $838 million shortfall in the 2020 budget.

Lightfoot’s plan to bring in new revenue and curb traffic congestion would hike the tax on solo riders using services like Uber and Lyft elsewhere in the city by 74%. That’s despite the fact most outlying neighborhoods don’t face nearly the heavy traffic problems seen in the downtown area.

* From the mayor’s press release…

Based on peak congestion locations and times, the City is proposing a new variable Ground Transportation Tax (GTT) structure. Under the current GTT, a flat rate of $0.60 is assessed per trip citywide, and a $5.00 flat rate is assessed per trip in special zones (the airports, Navy Pier and McCormick Place). As part of an effort to incentivize shared rides to combat both congestion and rising vehicle emissions in Chicago as well as encourage use of higher efficiency modes of like transit downtown, the City proposes the following progressive structure:

    Decreasing the GTT on all citywide shared ride-hailing trips from $0.60 per trip to $0.53 per trip.
    Increasing the GTT on all citywide single ride-hailing trips from $0.60 per trip to $1.13 per trip.
    Assessing a downtown zone surcharge, placing an additional $1.75 per trip for single rides and $0.60 per trip for shared rides.

No changes are proposed to the current $5 special zone fee, the $0.10 per trip accessibility fee or the $0.02 per trip administrative fee. […]

Representing areas among the highest density of trips citywide, the proposed structure will target ride-hailing trips in the downtown zone, a map of which can be found attached, during the hours of 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays, when congestion is most prevalent. To ensure continued, reliable access for customers citywide—particularly for the south and west sides—the city’s progressive structure will offer a discount on shared trips in the neighborhoods. Shared trip requests on south and west sides can range upwards of 50 percent of all requests, in comparison to less than 30 percent on the north side and downtown.

The mayor’s congestion study is here.


…Adding… From comments…

“Lock Box” doesn’t interfere with putting the revenue into the general fund?

That’s a good question. Checking now.

…Adding… From a rideshare spokesperson, here are what $10 rides will look like after added fees…

Chicago Central Business District $13.00
Chicago Transit Deserts $11.25
Seattle Proposed $10.75
Rhode Island $10.70
Washington DC $10.60
Boston $10.20
Los Angeles $10.10

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Watching - Friday, Oct 18, 19 @ 9:24 am:

    I like coming up with creative solutions, but logistically this doesn’t seem feasible. Solo riders can hail the ride as having 2+ passengers, and drivers aren’t likely to make an issue of it because it risks a bad driver review.

  2. - illinoyed - Friday, Oct 18, 19 @ 9:27 am:

    Tax that traffic! Per capita auto emissions in the Chicago-metro area rose 43% since 1990, in the meantime we’re all stuck in gridlock while the kids get asthma and the troops get killed in oil wars. Good to see something being done about it.

  3. - Soccermom - Friday, Oct 18, 19 @ 9:34 am:

    It is Friday. I am going to make a tremendously stupid joke.

    The Mayor’s congestion tax is nothing to sneeze at.

    I’ll see myself out…

  4. - Donnie Elgin - Friday, Oct 18, 19 @ 9:35 am:

    Conde Nast named Chicago a “Best Big City” for tourists. The Mayor proposing a Ground Transportation Tax that exploits them makes sense in a perverse short-sighted sort of way.

  5. - Rich Hill - Friday, Oct 18, 19 @ 9:36 am:

    It appears the mayor’s office researched what worked well in London’s congestion pricing policy and how it needed to be updated to address the growing effects of rideshare services. (See the link for a good summary of the first 15 years of the London policy.)

  6. - Anon but Social Knows me - Friday, Oct 18, 19 @ 9:37 am:

    This will raise some funds, but it will do nothing for congestion. Since most rideshare cars have the goofy airplane sticker in the back window (to access the airports) they are easy to spot. They are a total nuisance. driving across four lanes of traffic to take a wrong turn to get a fare, waddling around while looking for fares and more. Taxi drivers have figured these things out a long time ago, but amateur drivers that now drive for lyft/uber et al, none of that knowledge or sense. Plus they typically run two smartphones - one for themselves and one for the rideshare app - so they are on two devices, regardless of the newer law about touching phones while in a car.

  7. - NoGifts - Friday, Oct 18, 19 @ 9:40 am:

    “Lock Box” doesn’t interfere with putting the revenue into the general fund?

  8. - Honeybear - Friday, Oct 18, 19 @ 9:41 am:

    So if I understand correctly this doesn’t effect the cab drivers, just lyft and uber folks? I hope this is the case since I always support the cab drivers when there. They are my AFSCME union sisters and brothers.

  9. - Merica - Friday, Oct 18, 19 @ 9:41 am:

    i think it’s a bad idea. It’s just taxing tourists. Chicago is already expensive enough. tourism is a major industry for the city. Many tourists are coming in on day trips from more rural areas in the Midwest, parking and traveling by a mix of uber’s and public transit. You don’t want to hurt tourism by surprising people with a random $5.00 surcharge. Prices are for a family of 4:
    Willis Tower - $84.00 + tax
    Architectural boat tour - $170.00 + tax
    Shedd Aquarium - $140.00 + tax
    Contemporary Art Museum - $30.00 + tax

  10. - Good - Friday, Oct 18, 19 @ 9:42 am:

    Anything to prevent/limit another property tax hike.

  11. - City Zen - Friday, Oct 18, 19 @ 9:45 am:

    Do ride-share taxes go to CDOT to cover the additional wear and tear ride-share services cause to our infrastructure? Or CTA?

  12. - ༼ つ ◕_◕ ༽つ - Friday, Oct 18, 19 @ 10:02 am:

    Pro- captures revenue from out of towners who tax the city’s resources without paying anything.

    Con- A city of immense wealth continues to nibble around the edges with largely regressive taxes. That ain’t reform, Mayor.

  13. - SpfdNewb - Friday, Oct 18, 19 @ 10:07 am:

    I personally wish cities take the Barcelona approach; ban personal vehicles in city centers and create “super blocks” allowing mass transit and pedestrian travel. But that’s 100% my take and I know everyone is not going to agree with it.

  14. - Benjamin - Friday, Oct 18, 19 @ 10:13 am:

    @ City Zen: I would suggest to the mayor that she tie the increased revenue to a particular project, one that would alleviate congestion. That could be bike lanes, bus lanes, revamping Loop CTA stations, or even pothole repair. Sure, money is fungible, but tying the fee increase to a broadly popular issue would reduce any resistance.

    As for this being a “regressive tax”: my guess is that downtown-bound Uber/Lyft trips are catering to people with more disposable income than blue-collar workers. But I’m ready to be proven wrong.

  15. - NoGifts - Friday, Oct 18, 19 @ 10:14 am:

    “Lock Box” doesn’t prevent revenue being used for non-transportation purposes?

  16. - @misterjayem - Friday, Oct 18, 19 @ 10:34 am:

    The Mayor’s congestion tax is nothing to sneeze at.

    My god.

    Where was Rich’s ban hammer when we really needed it??

    – MrJM

  17. - JS Mill - Friday, Oct 18, 19 @ 10:39 am:

    = The Mayor proposing a Ground Transportation Tax that exploits them makes sense in a perverse short-sighted sort of way.=

    Yeah because nobody goes to LA, SanFrancisco, or New York anymore.

  18. - Steve - Friday, Oct 18, 19 @ 10:46 am:

    Raising the cost of doing business downtown.

  19. - Billy Shears - Friday, Oct 18, 19 @ 10:51 am:

    Wow, a 7 cent decrease. That should really get people to do more shared rides.

  20. - Fav Human - Friday, Oct 18, 19 @ 10:52 am:

    Seems not at all bad to me, in fact. As Big Jim once pointed out, better to tax those who don’t vote…..

    And, it just might drive more commuters back to the CTA.

    “Super blocks”

    I actually like this idea. Bus travel downtown is WAY faster in the “bus lanes”.

    The way to get people into transit is to make it faster. Bus lanes do ust that.

  21. - City Zen - Friday, Oct 18, 19 @ 10:58 am:

    ==And, it just might drive more commuters back to the CTA.==

    The problem is the last few blocks. I know many women who will not take CTA after dark or after work hours. Not so much because of the service itself, rather, the lonely few blocks walk from the stop to their home. It’s about feeling safe. And now they’ll pay more for that safety.

  22. - Shytown - Friday, Oct 18, 19 @ 11:12 am:

    For a mayor who ran on equity for communities that have been disproportionately impacted by city fees, this sure flies in the face of it that promise.

  23. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Oct 18, 19 @ 11:15 am:

    === in addition to the safety issue.===

    What safety issue?

    To the post,

    I’ve been one to ding the Mayor and her Crew to both what do they want from Springfield, and what are they prepared to do on their own.

    Governing includes tough choices. Agree with the policy or not, that’s a separate issue for me in this instance, the idea that the Mayor and her Crew ate putting out a plan, in October, that’s a start.

  24. - Six Degrees of Separation - Friday, Oct 18, 19 @ 11:21 am:

    I don’t find Chicago’s downtown to be particularly congested, at least as compared to a 3rd-world city level. The price of parking keeps my car out of the loop on most occasions where I have a choice. Cabs are more convenient when your trip needs “immediate” attention. I don’t see a big issue with what’s being proposed.

  25. - notsosure - Friday, Oct 18, 19 @ 11:24 am:

    My guess on the “lock box” question: The sponsors of that lunacy were really targeting just the gas tax but wrote the thing so sloppily that it arguably includes not only this but sales tax when you buy a car, new tires, etc. Having said that, the $ doesn’t have to go into a special fund; it just has to be spent on “transportation-related” things, which could be CTA subsidies, filling potholes, road signs, etc.

  26. - R A T - Friday, Oct 18, 19 @ 11:33 am:

    To misquote Yogi Berra –

    No one goes to Chicago anymore. Too many tourists.

  27. - {Sigh} - Friday, Oct 18, 19 @ 11:36 am:

    =. It’s about feeling safe. And now they’ll pay more for that safety.=
    @City Zen- I agree with you. And now under this proposal you either pay more or share a ride with a stranger. At least the ride share ap allows a rider to identify the driver and plates of the care they are getting into. But I know nothing about the rider I might be forced to ride with in order to save money.

    The last time I was in Chicago, there were no available taxis were I was staying and I had to use Uber to get a ride to Union Station.

  28. - Steve Polite - Friday, Oct 18, 19 @ 11:39 am:

    Soccermom scores a goal.

  29. - Huh? - Friday, Oct 18, 19 @ 11:58 am:

    11:56 twas I.

  30. - Dan Vock - Friday, Oct 18, 19 @ 12:00 pm:

    Curious that the rideshare folks didn’t mention the cost after fees in New York.

    From the NYT: “An extra $2.50 fee will be tacked onto any yellow taxi rides in Manhattan that begin, end or pass through south of 96th street, and an extra $2.75 fee will be added for other for-hire vehicles, including Ubers and Lyfts — all before the car even starts.”

  31. - NoGifts - Friday, Oct 18, 19 @ 12:18 pm:

    If it’s a congestion tax, it should not be applied during night time and early mornings when there isn’t any congestion. So people who are anxious about walking the blocks in the dark should not be affected.

  32. - Peters Piece - Friday, Oct 18, 19 @ 12:25 pm:

    My daughter takes Public Transit to work and Ride Share home. She works at the airport and gets off work at Midnight or 3:00 am. Public Transit is not feasible and the walk is not safe for her trip home and there is no congestion to speak of at that hour. Still a good idea for peak congestion hours. Possibly tweaked so that minimum wage workers can travel home or to work during non-congestion hours using ride share without extra cost.

  33. - Soccermom - Friday, Oct 18, 19 @ 12:36 pm:

    Steve Polite –

    An own goal, but still a goal…

  34. - Just Me - Friday, Oct 18, 19 @ 12:41 pm:

    Fully support. The few times I have an emergency and need to taxi/uber downtown it is a nightmare. Anything to reduce cars downtown is a good thing. I’ll gladly pay an extra few bucks the few times a year I need to take a personal vehicle downtown to get there ASAP.

  35. - Blue Dog Dem - Friday, Oct 18, 19 @ 1:05 pm:

    Soccermama. Excellent.

  36. - Responsa - Friday, Oct 18, 19 @ 1:10 pm:

    Thanks to the commenters today who point out that any congestion tax should be reserved for and applied for hours when there is actual congestion. Otherwise it only serves to punish commuters who need to travel safely and within their budgets (most often late at night).

  37. - DuPage - Friday, Oct 18, 19 @ 1:15 pm:

    The old Chicago-Aurora-Elgin electric line was about 100 years ahead of it’s time. It was unique, it was a suburban line that would switch onto the CTA tracks when the train reached Chicago. The train would then go around the loop, dropping off and picking up at each stop around the loop. It then headed back out to the suburbs. A similar thing would be useful today to relieve congestion.

    Speaking of congestion, that I-57 to I-65 link should be re-considered. It would help reduce congestion as well.

  38. - Benjamin - Friday, Oct 18, 19 @ 3:24 pm:

    ===that I-57 to I-65 link should be re-considered.===

    Last I heard, the Illiana Tollway would put the state on the hook for half a billion dollars and serve fewer cars than Chicago’s Irving Park Road. Maybe things have changed since the last feasibility study, but I don’t think that would be the best place to spend money on fighting congestion.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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