$153 million in congestion reduction funds that had been awarded to New York City will now go to Chicago to apply congestion pricing to street parking spaces. Funds will also go toward developing pilot Bus Rapid Transit routes on dedicated lanes.
"The use of congestion pricing for the city's metered parking spaces is key to Chicago's bold and ambitious plan, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Peters emphasized. Higher street meter rates during the morning and evening rush periods will encourage commuters to take transit downtown instead of driving. And, the new Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) routes will be available for those who don't want to pay more for parking.
The federal funding is contingent, in part, on the city and the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) adopting the necessary legal authorities. Also, the city must successfully move forward on its previously announced plans to privatize its metered parking system and enter into a long-term agreement with a private firm by December 31, 2008."
"The new (as yet, unidentified) BRT routes will have their own dedicated lanes and the buses will be equipped with technology to help speed them through traffic with priority right of way at busy signalized intersections. In addition, the CTA will be able to purchase new and cleaner hybrid engine vehicles, Peters said."
From Chicago Tribune:
"Another component of the plan involves creating fees for on-street truck-loading zones downtown."
"On the bus rapid-transit routes, the CTA will operate articulated, hybrid buses to reduce pollution. These buses are on order, officials said."
"The mayor said the meter parking program and the express buses will complement each other, adding that he hopes Chicago eventually will have 100 miles of bus express lanes.
Peters said Los Angeles currently is testing express-lane buses, but Chicago will be the first major city to deploy such routes on a large scale.
Some of the federal money awarded to Chicago includes funds that New York City relinquished after it abandoned plans to test congestion pricing for drivers entering Manhattan."