Lucky Chicago. They aren’t afraid of change and progress, and now the Windy City is getting what should be ours if it hadn’t been for Sheldon Silver and his crony of cowardly representatives.
When New York decided not to adopt congestion pricing, the City forfeited around $354 million that would have gone toward anti-congestion measures as part of the new National Strategy to Reduce Congestion. Since our wonderful leaders don’t seem too concerned with reducing congestion, the feds instead decided to dole out $153 million to Chicago. That city will implement a bus rapid transit system with dedicated lanes and ramped-up enforcement as well as variable-rate parking meters.
Los Angeles — the king of congestion — will receive over $200 million that will go toward implementing a tolling system designed to encourage car-pooling and other high-occupancy vehicle commuting. I prefer Chicago’s plan, but the one in Los Angeles is not without merit.
Catrin Einhorn of The Times has the story:
In Chicago, officials said Tuesday that they planned to use $153 million for projects like creating the first 10 miles of lanes dedicated to faster buses that make fewer stops and set off sensors that lengthen green traffic lights and shorten red ones. To discourage driving downtown, meters and parking lots there would charge more during peak traffic times.
In Los Angeles, which would receive $213 million, officials said high-occupancy vehicle lanes would be converted to toll lanes. Cars with three or more people would be exempt from paying. The federal money would also finance bus service in the new toll lanes.
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York, through a spokesman, applauded the efforts of both cities.
“While it’s sad that Washington, which most Americans agree is completely dysfunctional, is more willing to try new approaches to long-standing problems than Albany is,” Mr. Bloomberg’s press secretary, Stu Loeser, said, “we’re glad other places aren’t as allergic to innovation.”
Mayor Bloomberg is clearly still smarting from the defeat of his groundbreaking (in the U.S., at least) congestion pricing plan. He’s not the only one. “We’re disappointed that New York didn’t get it,” Tyler D. Duvall, acting under secretary for policy for the Department of Transportation, said to The Times, “but we’re extremely happy to have the opportunity to work with L.A. and Chicago.”
For New York, the blow stings a bit. Chicago, in particular, is adopting measures that New York really needs and should have. At a time when many are noting that our own BRT system may be delayed a few years, Chicago’s gain is New York’s loss.
We could have had BRT money; we could have had funds for traffic reduction programs and public transit expansion. Instead, we have risk-averse politicians who wouldn’t even put the plan up for a floor vote, and we get to sit back at Chicago enjoys the money that could have been ours. That’s some example to set as a global city in 2008.