Anyway here's a piece of this story...
Motorists who insist on driving in downtown Chicago should pay a London-style "congestion fee" -- now $16 a day there -- to ease traffic jams, reduce air pollution and provide a bonanza of sorely needed funding for the CTA, the City Council's most influential alderman said Wednesday.Oh yeah this is how it's done in London, England...
Finance Committee Chairman Edward M. Burke (14th) wants City Council hearings, to at least explore the possibility of charging motorists for the privilege of driving downtown.
London started in 2003 with a congestion fee of 5 pounds, roughly $10, that has since been raised to 8 pounds or $16.
On Earth Day, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed an $8 fee on cars and $21 on trucks that drive in congested Lower Manhattan south of 86th Street to raise $400 million for public transportation projects in the first year alone. The New York Legislature is considering the idea.
"It's certainly a very complicated issue and not one that can be rushed into. But, I thought as long as London is doing it, as long as New York is doing it, that perhaps it's an idea that Chicago ought to consider," Burke said.
"It would reduce the number of automobiles coming into the Central Business District. And No. 2, it could provide a revenue stream for public transit."
Mayor Daley said he has "an open mind" about the idea. But he was clearly just mouthing the words.
The mayor noted that London is a city "built centuries ago" with narrow streets and no alleys. "I'm just saying it's completely different. Let's not rush to that and scare everybody off. We're trying to keep businesses here and constantly move businesses into the city and relocate businesses," Daley said.
"Are you gonna put it on all the aldermen [who] drive down every day? Do you start off with them? ... Can citizens drive down from [elsewhere in] the city? Are they excluded? ... How about all the trucks coming downtown? ... That's what you have to look at."
Jerry Roper, president of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, wondered aloud whether "commerce would be charged to drive on the streets" of downtown Chicago. A congestion fee could also have a devastating impact on tourism, he said.
Burke said public hearings would determine the amount of the congestion fee, the precise boundaries of the so-called "Chicago Green District" and the method of enforcement. Exemptions could be made for taxis, buses and "environmentally friendly hybrid vehicles," he said.
London's congestion fee is enforced by 230 surveillance cameras positioned at entry and exit points to the zone and at key locations within the zone. Cameras record traffic images and send them to a central processor that reads the license plates and cross-checks them against the list of vehicles that have purchased the daily congestion pass.The article mentions that this could be a back-door tax on suburbanites. I'm sure there are a lot of supporters for that, especially among those in the city who see suburban commuters taking some of their money home with them to their respective municipalities. To be sure I would rather hope there wouldn't be the type of enforcement mechanisms as there are in London.
If a pass has not been purchased in advance for that license plate and is not purchased by midnight of the day of travel, the vehicle's registered owner gets a ticket in the mail.